The newly elected Congress government in Karnataka has scheduled the swearing-in ceremony of a full-fledged state Cabinet comprising 24 ministers at 11.45 am on Saturday at the Raj Bhavan. The Cabinet expansion was finalised after a lot of back and forth on the choice of ministers.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah dispatched the list of new ministers to the office of the Governor on Friday night following his return from Delhi. He said the Congress had followed the norms of “providing equal representation to all castes and regions while keeping in mind the principles of social justice” while choosing the ministers.
A surprise inclusion in the list of ministers is former All India Congress Committee (AICC) and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) functionary N Boseraju who is not a member of either the Legislative Council or the Assembly but is known to have worked for decades as a key liaison between the state Congress and the high command.
Boseraju’s son was an aspirant for the Karnataka polls from the Raichur City seat but made way for a Muslim candidate after the sizeable Muslim community sought the ticket. This move is believed to have helped the Congress in several seats in the region.
The list of ministers consists of eight Lingayats, including sole woman minister Lakshmi Hebbalkar; seven from Scheduled Caste (SC) communities; five Vokkaligas; two Muslims; three from Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities; six from Other Backward Classes (OBC) groups, including one Maratha; one Brahmin, one Christian, and one Jain.
Former Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao who was initially not part of a preliminary list made it to the final list. Rao was not considered initially on account of five MLAs from Bengaluru featuring among the probable ministers.
The induction of 24 new ministers on Saturday will take the strength of the Congress Cabinet in Karnataka to its full capacity of 34 ministers. Eight ministers were sworn in along with CM Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM D K Shivakumar on May 20.
The exercise of picking ministers witnessed an intense battle between the CM and Deputy CM on the choice of candidates from their respective camps. Siddaramaiah seems to have had a larger say in the choice of new ministers. As many as 12 of the new ministers in the list of 24 Cabinet ministers released by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) have no prior ministerial experience. They include K Venkatesh, K N Rajanna, S S Mallikarjun, Mankal Vaidya, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, Rahim Khan, N S Boseraju, Byrathi Suresh, Madhu Bangarappa, Dr M C Sudhakar, R B Thimmapur, and B Nagendra.
Among the few veterans on the list are H K Patil, Dr H C Mahadevappa, Eshwar Khandre, Sharanabasappa Darshanapur and Shivanand Patil. Conspicuous by their absence on the preliminary list were veterans R V Deshpande and T B Jayachandra. A decision on portfolios is expected on Sunday.
No MLCs figure in the list even as the former Leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Parishad, B K Hariprasad, and Congress working president Saleem Ahmed were considered to be in contention, said Congress sources.
The six ministers from the Bengaluru region are Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout MLA), K J George (Sarvagnanagar), B Z Zameer Ahmed (Chamarajpet), Krishna Byregowda (Bytarayanapura, Byrathi Suresh (Hebbal), and Dinesh Gundu Rao (Gandhi Nagar).
N A Harris, a Muslim MLA from Bengaluru associated with Shivakumar was edged out for the second Muslim slot available in the Cabinet by Rahim Khan from Bidar North. Harris is an MLA from Shanthinagar in Bengaluru.
The new ministers from the Lingayat community are Lakshmi Hebbalkar (Belagavi Rural MLA, Panchamasali sub-caste), Shivananand Patil (Basavana Bagewadi, Panchamasali), Eshwar Khandre (Bhalki, Banajiga sub-caste), Sharan Prakash Patil (Sedam, Adi Banajiga), Sharanabasappa Darshanapur (Shahapur, Reddy Lingayat), and S S Mallikarjun (Davangere North, Sadar Lingayat).
Senior leader and Siddaramaiah associate M B Patil, who is a Lingayat, was inducted last week. Veteran H K Patil belongs to the Namdhari Reddy community, which is also sometimes considered to be a part of the Lingayat community.
The new ministers from the Vokkaliga community are N Cheluvaraya Swamy (Nagamangala constituency), K Venkatesh (Periyapatna), Dr M C Sudhakar (Chintamani), and Krishna Byregowda (Byatarayanapura). D K Shivakumar is also a Vokkaliga.
The new ministers from SC groups are Shivaraj Tangadagi (Kanakagiri MLA, SC Bhovi community), Rudrappa Lamani (Haveri, SC Lambani group), H C Mahadevappa (T Narasipura, SC Right group) and R B Thimmapur (Bagalkot, SC Left community).
The Congress earlier inducted three Dalit leaders into the Cabinet. They are G Parameshwara (Koratagere MLA, SC Right), K H Muniyappa (Devanahalli, SC Left) and Priyank Kharge (Chittapur, SC Right).
The new ministers among ST communities are K N Rajanna (Madhugiri MLA) and B Nagendra (Bellary Rural). Both of them belong to the Valmiki Nayak community like Congress working president Satish Jarkiholi who found a place in the Cabinet last week.
The new ministers from OBC groups are Byrathi Suresh (Hebbal MLA, Kuruba community), Mankal Vaidya (Bhatkal, Mogaveera group), Madhu Bangarappa (Sorab, Ediga group), Santosh Lad (Kalghatgi, Maratha community), and N S Boseraju (unelected, Raju community). Siddaramaiah belongs to the Kuruba community.
Among other communities represented in the Cabinet are Rahim Khan, the Bidar MLA who is the second Muslim after Zameer Ahmed who was inducted on May 20, D Sudhakar from the Jain community, and Dinesh Gundu Rao who is a Brahmin. Senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy who was inducted on May 20 is from the Reddy community and K J George is Christian.
Among key Congress leaders who lost out in the Cabinet race are Vijayanand Kashapannavar and Vinay Kulkarni. Both of them are from the Panchamasali Lingayat group and were at the forefront of a movement for OBC quota during the BJP tenure.