It has been over three weeks since Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader BS Yediyurappa took oath as the chief minister of Karnataka, but the state is still to get a fully-functioning government even as it reels under its worst floods in recent history. Yediyurappa has been a one-man government since taking oath on July 26, and has been the cabinet unto himself.
In fact, Yediyurappa has held four cabinet meetings since taking oath, but he was the sole cabinet member.
The state is finally set to see a cabinet, a limited cabinet to be precise, on Tuesday. The limited cabinet expansion will see 15-18 members taking oath at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Tuesday, BJP sources said. The maximum cabinet strength is 33, but BJP is not looking to fill up the seats in a hurry.
The reason for limited cabinet expansion, and also for the delay in the cabinet formation, has been the uncertainty over the fate of the 17 disqualified members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and whether they can be accommodated in the cabinet.
Former Karnataka speaker Ramesh Kumar had disqualified 17 rebel MLAs who had failed to show up for the floor test last month. These disqualified MLAs have moved the Supreme Court against Kumar's decision, but are yet to get a hearing.
However, BJP sources maintain its was the dire flood situation in the state that kept Yediyurappa from forming the government.
"There were many other important issues for both Yediyurappa and Amit Shah before they focused on the cabinet formation in Karnataka," a BJP state member said, requesting anonymity.
Yediyurappa was able to meet with Shah only over the weekend to discuss the names for the new cabinet in Karnataka.
The Karnataka chief minister also met with
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Friday to seek Rs 40,000 crore for flood relief and assistance for the state. Sources say Yediyurappa was to meet with Shah earlier to form the cabinet, but the latter had been held up with the tense situation in Kashmir post the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
The Congress, which now finds itself in the Opposition in the state, has been heavily critical of Yediyurappa and governer Vajubhai Vala for not forming a cabinet even when the state was reeling under
unprecedented floods in northern Karnataka.
"Running a state government is a very complex and challenging job. Even a fully formed and competent Cabinet is normally unable to do justice to the functions of government and, in turn, to the people of the state. To expect one person to do this task and to do justice to all the necessary functions would be impossible," Congress leader Krishna Byregowda told
"The terrible floods that have affected Karnataka have not been experienced by the state in decades. Most unfortunately and paradoxically, 8-10 districts are suffering from severe drought. In some blocks the rainfall deficit has exceeded 40 percent."When the state is faced with this double calamity, adequate funds have not been made available, rehabilitation and reconstruction work is tardy. The Central government has not released a single pie. Let alone funds, the BJP high command has held up the Karnataka Cabinet as well, three weeks after coming to power. This smacks of not just injustice but arrogance of power. The people of Karnataka are the victims.," Byregowda added.