Karnataka Cabinet expansion: Many senior BJP leaders anxious about not getting berth

As the new Chief Minister flew to New Delhi to finalise the Cabinet expansion exercise, expected to happen on Wednesday or Thursday, lobbying for a ministerial berth only intensified.

With reports of the party high command wanting to give opportunities to youngsters and reduce the average age of the Cabinet, several senior leaders of the party are anxious about their political future. “If a leader is kept out of the Cabinet on the basis of seniority and age now, the fear that he may be denied ticket to contest in the upcoming Assembly polls is very real. So the fight to make it to the Cabinet has assumed an existential tone for many seniors in order to stave off retirement,” a senior party leader said.

Former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar may have already bowed out of the race, but other seniors said to be on the list of those likely to be dropped continue to jockey hard for a berth. Prominent among them is K.S. Eshwarappa, who had earlier said it was evident that the party was giving opportunities to youngsters in both its organisation and the government and had also said that he would abide by the party’s decision if they asked him to go. Now, however, he has done a U-turn and has openly expressed his wish to be anointed Deputy Chief Minister or given a plum portfolio, preferably Rural Development and Panchayat Raj. He recently met senior RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat. Several seers from Kuruba community have also demanded that he be made a Deputy Chief Minister.

It may be recalled that in a viral audio clip, said to be of BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel (which he has denied), it was claimed that “Jagadish Shettar’s and Eshwarappa’s teams” would be kept out of the Cabinet.

Another audio clip, purportedly of a conversation between senior leaders R. Ashok and V. Somanna, which has gone viral on social media, has the two men quarrelling and accusing each other of conspiring against one another and carrying tales to the high command in an attempt to scuttle their ministerial chances. Mr. Somanna has told presspersons that the conversation dated back over 25 days. “The audio clip only betrays the anxiety among the senior Ministers,” said a former Minister.

Other seniors who may not make it to the Cabinet include S. Suresh Kumar and Kota Srinivas Poojary, party sources said. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, who was one of the probables considered for the Chief Minister’s post as well, is tipped to vacate the Speaker’s chair and be sworn in as a Minister. If that happens, one of the seniors who fail to make it to the Cabinet, preferably from the RSS stables, will likely be anointed as Speaker, sources said.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 7:16:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-cabinet-expansion-many-senior-bjp-leaders-anxious-about-not-getting-berth/article35671975.ece

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