BENGALURU: It has been almost two weeks since BS Yediyurappa was sworn in as chief minister of Karnataka. But he still remains the only one in the cabinet. Yediyurappa's party, the BJP, took over in the state after the coalition between the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular (JDS) lost a trust vote in the assembly last month. Yediyurappa proved majority in a House that had shrunk in numbers after the disqualification of 17 Congress and JDS MLAs. The coalition says the BJP engineered the collapse of its government - and that rebels were promised rewards by that party. Those rebels cannot contest elections until the end of the current assembly as ruled by the then speaker, Ramesh Kumar, but they have all approached the Supreme Court on the matter.
As it stands, they cannot be given berths in the new BJP government, but the BJP may want to keep some berths vacant as a token of faith in case the Supreme Court gives them relief. There are also several senior BJP leaders among the party's 105 MLAs who would need to be included.
Yediyurappa visited Delhi recently to sort out the cabinet situation with national leaders of his party. He met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The death of former Foreign Minister and BJP veteran Sushma Swaraj may have delayed that process. But the BJP is hopeful the proposed list will soon be cleared and at least part of the cabinet will be sworn at the earliest.
On his return from New Delhi, where he met leaders on the expansion, Yediyurappa left immediately for Belagavi in flood-hit northern Karnataka. "I met the national leaders and spoke to them about the state. Amit Shah said 'instead of worrying about the cabinet - go to the flood-affected areas. I will go again to Delhi after three or four days to discuss the cabinet and finalise it. They said the priority is the flood. Go there first then come here again," Yediyurappa told reporters in Belagavi.
Cong, JDS going on the offensive.
The Karnataka Congress tweeted: "As Karnataka reels from floods, Chief Minister Shri @BSYBJP is not even in the state and is camping in Delhi. And there is no sign of a cabinet to deal with the emergency. @BJP4Karnataka is yet again proving their incompetency in governance."
The Janata Dal Secular tweeted: "@BSYBJP While the state is reeling under severe floods, you've not formed the cabinet yet, & on a selfish trip to Delhi. Do you get sadistic pleasure by seeing lakhs of people in distress? Is this why you toppled a perfectly functioning govt? To see people suffer? Shame on you!"