Twenty nine MLAs from Karnataka swore-in as ministers on Wednesday to join the cabinet of chief minister Basavaraj Bommai. The cabinet expansion took place after days of hectic parleys and discussions among the party leadership to finalise the list.

Bommai got the new team of ministers exactly a week after he took oath as the chief minister, following his predecessor BS Yediyurappa’s resignation.

The new ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by governor Thaawarchand Gehlot at the Raj Bhavan.

They include four former deputy chief ministers Govind Karjol, CN Ashwath Narayan, KS Eshwarappa and R Ashoka, and senior leaders Govind Karjol, JC Madhuswamy and V Somanna.

Others sworn in are: B Sriramulu, Murugesh Nirani, K Gopalaiah, Shashikala Jolle, S Angara, Kota Srinivas Poojari, CC Patil, Prabhu Chauhan, Shivaram Hebbar, K Sudhakar, MTB Nagaraj, ST Somashekar, Anand Singh, Byrathi Basavaraj, BC Patil, KC Narayana Gowda, V Sunil Kumar, Araga Jnanedra, BC Nagesh, Munirathna, Halappa Achar and Shankar Patil Munenakoppa.

Karnataka cabinet can have a maximum of 34 ministers, and Bommai in his first round of expansion, has kept five posts vacant, perhaps to accommodate disgruntled MLAs later.

The BJP seems to have taken a cautious approach to the cabinet expansion with the party restraining itself from going for a total overhaul of ministers who were part of BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet too. Twenty three of the 29 newly appointed ministers were in the previous Yediyurappa’s cabinet. Besides this, six new faces have made it to Bommai’s team.

The party central leadership has also done away with posts of deputy chief ministers, unlike during Yediyurappa’s regime where three deputy chief ministers were appointed.

Yediyurappa’s younger son BY Vijayendra too did not make it to the cabinet.

With the BJP trying to balance caste equations, the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities got the lion’s share. The cabinet has eight Lingayats, seven Vokkaligas, seven OBCs, three scheduled castes and one scheduled tribe.

Speaking to the media minutes before the swearing-in ceremony, the chief minister said that the party high command has formed the team keeping the next assembly and local body elections in mind. “The new cabinet has a mix of experienced hands and fresh faces. The party leadership has dropped a few senior ministers who earlier held positions, to make use of their organisational skills to strengthen the party,” he said.


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