Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday removed 14 ministers and inducted 13 new faces in a major reshuffle of his three-year-old ministry.
Governor Vajubhai R. Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to nine new cabinet ministers and four ministers of state at Raj Bhavan here.
The nine cabinet ministers are Kagodu Thimmappa, K.R. Ramesh Kumar, Basavaraja Rayareddi, Meti Hullappa Yamanappa, Tanveer Sait, S.S. Mallikarjuna, M.R. Seetharam, Santosh S. Lad and Ramesh Laxmanrao Jarkiholi.
The four ministers of state are Priyank M. Kharge, Eshwara Kandre, Pramod Madhwaraj and Rudrappa Manappa Lamani.
Their names were cleared by the Congress high command – President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi – over two days of consultations with Siddaramaiah and state party president G. Parameshwara.
Though 14 lawmakers were short-listed, M. Krishnappa, who represents a Bengaluru assembly segment, was left out from the final list without any reason being specified.
As part of the revamp, on Siddaramaiah’s recommendation, the governor dropped 14 ministers – Srinivasa Prasad, M. H. Ambareesh, Qamar Ul Islam, Shamnoor Shivashankarappa, Vinay Kumar Sorake, Satish Jarkiholi, Shivraj Tangadagi, S.R. Patil, Manohar Tahasildar, K. Abhaychandra Jain, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Kimmane Ratnakar, Baburao Chinchansoor and P.T. Parameshwar Naik – from the council of ministers with immediate effect.
Enraged supporters of Islam vandalised an old Congress office at Kalburgi, about 650 km from Bengaluru, protesting his sacking as minister for minority welfare, Haj and Wakf board.
“Our office at Kalburgi was ransacked by Islam’s supporters after they learnt that he was dropped in the cabinet reshuffle,” a party official told IANS.
Protest rallies were also taken out in Mandya and Mysuru districts in the state’s southern region for sacking Kannada actor Ambareesh and Prasad.
Chinchansoor blamed Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge for his ouster from the 34-member ministry.
In a related development, supporters of Congress lawmaker Mallikayya Guttedar of Afzalpur in Kalburgi district set a state-run bus on fire to protest against denial of a ministerial berth for him despite assurances.
Among the new ministers, Thimmappa is currently the assembly speaker while Ramesh Kumar held the same post during the previous Congress rule over a decade ago.
Priyank is the son of Kharge, while Lad returns to cabinet nearly three years after he resigned in November 2013 as minister of state for information and infrastructure development over the mining scam that rocked the state during the then BJP rule.
S.S. Mallikarjuna replaced his father Shivashankarappa from Davangere, while Ramesh replaced his elder brother Sathish from Belagavi district.
“The revamp will ensure proportionate representation to all the people across the state, spanning castes and regions,” a party official told IANS earlier.
Karnataka is the only major state where the Congress is in power after the party lost in Assam and Kerala in the recent assembly elections.
Siddaramaiah and Parameshwara are hoping the revamp will restore the party’s image, tainted by drought crisis, farmers’ suicides and a spate of controversies.
“Siddaramaiah wants to inject new and young blood in the cabinet and move some of the ministers for party work in the run-up to the next assembly election, due in early 2018,” a source added.
Playing down the crisis brewing over the revamp, Siddaramaiah denied rift in the ruling party after 14 ministers were sacked.
“I will talk to all our MLAs. Nobody will resign. There is no rift in the party over the reshuffle,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after a brief meeting of the revamped cabinet at the state secretariat here.