Karnataka Minister Threatens to Resign if Fellow Turncoat MLA is Not Made Part of Yediyurappa Cabinet
Bengaluru: Adding to the existing discontent within the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over non-inclusion of several MLAs in the cabinet, Ramesh Jarkiholi said on Saturday he would quit from his post as minister and MLA if his colleague Mahesh Kumatahalli is not given his due.
Both the MLAs had won the December 2019 by-elections on BJP tickets after severing ties with the Congress months earlier.
"The BJP formed the government because of Mahesh Kumatahalli. He would get a proper post. There won't be any injustice. If he says that I have done injustice to him, I will resign as minister and MLA," Jarkiholi said in Belagavi on Saturday.
When by-elections were held to 15 constituencies, 13 former Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) MLAs were fielded as BJP candidates of whom 11 won. All of them, except Kumatahalli, were given cabinet berths during the expansion earlier this month.
The BJP leadership had said there was already enough representation in the ministry from Kumatahalli’s region (North Karnataka) and community (Lingayat) when asked about Kumatahalli's exclusion.
Several senior leaders within the BJP, including an eight-time MLA Umesh Katti, had also lost out on a cabinet berth as Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa insisted on expressing his gratitude to the turncoat MLAs for their support in forming this government.
Yediyurappa had earlier promised to reward them with cabinet berths before they jumped ship to overthrow the previous JD(S)-Congress government, led by HD Kumaraswamy.
Admitting that there was a genuine concern within the party, Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan said, "Our chief minister will look into it. Obviously there will be issues because he (Kumatahalli) is the only one left out. The only one who did not get a cabinet berth, but our CM will take care of it," he said.
Seventeen MLAs — 14 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) — had withdrawn support from the previous coalition government leading to its fall in July. The then speaker, Ramesh Kumar, had disqualified them for the rest of the term.
A subsequent Supreme Court verdict in the case upheld the disqualification, but allowed them to contest the bypolls.