Regional and caste imbalance in Karnataka cabinet

12 districts, largely in the Old Mysuru and Kalyana Karnataka (formerly called Hyderabad Karnataka) regions, which rank low in the development index, remain under represented.. In terms of caste representations too, the ministry looks skewed. Chi...

PTI

BENGALURU: Chief minister BS Yediyurappa may have successfully expanded his six-month-old ministry and allocated portfolios, but the new Cabinet has thrown up caste and regional imbalance. This might trigger a new round of trouble for the chief minister in future, if not immediately, say political analysts.

The compulsion of inducting turncoats into the Cabinet and political considerations have led to under-representation of certain districts, regions and communities.


Harish Ramaswamy, professor of political science at Karnatak University, Dharwad, said the fallout of the regional and caste imbalance coupled with the priority given to those who deserted the Congress and the JD(S) will create a gulf between the party's old-timers and migrants.

“The leaders who have been with the BJP for a long time will naturally feel neglected. Perhaps, sensing trouble, the BJP state president has already signalled a reshuffle within a few months, which is inevitable for both BJP and Yediyurappa,” he said.

In the 28-member ministry, Bengaluru has got the highest share with seven ministers, followed by Belagavi with four, and Shivamogga and Haveri with two each. Thirteen other districts have got one minister each.

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But 12 districts, largely in the Old Mysuru and Kalyana Karnataka (formerly called Hyderabad Karnataka) regions that rank low in the development index, remain underrepresented. Districts like Kalaburgi, Raichur, Yadgir, Koppal, Mysuru, Kolar, Chamarajnagar and Bengaluru Rural are not represented in the Cabinet at all. Dakshina Kannada district that sent BJP candidates in seven of the eight Assembly seats does not have a single nominee in the ministry.

In terms of caste representations too, the ministry looks skewed. The dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities have got the lion’s share, with eight and seven ministers each, while backward classes and Dalits have not got prominence. The Cabinet has only one woman, Shashikala Jolle.

Political observers predict that the regional and caste imbalance will keep Yediyurappa on his toes throughout his tenure and he may have to reshuffle his Cabinet not once, but many times until the next Assembly polls.

That the present ministry composition can spell trouble was indicated within days of the Cabinet expansion, with Vijayapura MLA Basavaraj Yatnal demanding equitable representation in the Cabinet. He said on Monday that he had already written to Yediyurappa requesting him to bring about regional balance in the ministry.

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Analysts believe that a lot of the chief minister's initiatives also depend on how the party central leadership will respond to situations. A Narayana, who teaches political science at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, said if the party high command decides to stand by Yediyurappa and tells MLAs to stay united, it might strengthen the CM's hands and insulate him from trouble.

“Even then, the BJP in Karnataka is a patchwork. There are MLAs who may defy the party’s terms and may not even worry about the survival of the government. It is the turncoat impact,” Narayana added.
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