With the much awaited expansion or reshuffle of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai-led cabinet in Karnataka taking time, voices of discontent seems to be brewing within the ruling BJP, with party MLA M P Renukacharya on Wednesday openly expressing displeasure about the delay and working of few ministers.
The MLA, who is also the Chief Minister’s political secretary, said several party legislators are of similar opinion and felt that if new faces are inducted into the cabinet, they would work aggressively and bring good name to BJP and the government ahead of 2023 assembly polls.
“I would not like to speak on cabinet exercise, as it is left to the discretion of the Chief Minister, who after discussion with national leadership has to take a decision, but expectations of the legislators was that the vacant berths must be filled as many ministers are holding additional portfolios,” Renukacharya said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said if new faces are given a chance in the cabinet, they will work aggressively and get a good name to the government and the party. “Instead of keeping the berths vacant, they should be given to new faces…this is not my option alone, but of several legislators. It (expansion) should not have been delayed for so long, it should have been done at the earliest, but not sure why it got delayed,” he added.
There are currently 29 ministers in the state cabinet, including the Chief Minister, as against the sanctioned strength of 34.
Pointing out that only eight to nine months are left for the next assembly polls, Renukacharya said “For a person to prove his ability (as a minister), minimum two to three years is required…one should not become minister for namesake and be limited to the third floor of Vidhana Soudha (where offices of ministers are located).”
In response to a question, he said the incumbent ministers should be more aggressive and he is “not satisfied” with them. “I’m not blaming any one, but they should be aggressive and there should be speed….Ministers are not properly responding to allegations made against the government by the opposition Congress, everything should not be left to the Chief Minister or the party to handle. Everyone has responsibility,” he said.
Asking ministers to introspect as to how many of them spoke when hijab, halal and azaan issues came up, Renukacharya asked, “Is only chair and selfishness important? Didn’t you want Hindutva? I’m not saying target minority community, but speak against anti-national elements and for the government.” With polls scheduled next year, there is pressure mounting on the CM to expand or rejig his cabinet soon, after the assembly elections in five states recently.
Bommai had recently said he would get to know about cabinet expansion or reshuffle only after discussing with the BJP high command. Some legislators have even been advocating a Gujarat-like overhaul of the Karnataka Cabinet soon, to make way for new faces, ahead of the assembly elections next year. The cabinet exercise will be crucial ahead of the assembly elections, in which the saffron party aims to return to power once again, and has set a target of winning a minimum of 150 seats in the 225-member House.