Seven new ministers took the oath of office in Karnataka as the administration expanded its 17-month-old Cabinet, reported PTI. The oath of office was administered by Governor Vajubhai Vala around 4 pm at the Glass House of the Raj Bhawan.

“The list of seven new ministers who will take oath today has been sent to the Raj Bhavan,” Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had said earlier in the day. “Their names are Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali, MTB Nagaraj, Murugesh Nirani, R Shankar, CP Yogeshwar and S Angara.”

Yediyurappa also said other matters will be discussed with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership, some of whom attended the ceremony. “We have kept one post vacant, and [regarding Excise Minister] H Nagesh… I will discuss with him and try to convince,” the chief minister said, hinting that he may be dropped from the ministry.

The Karnataka Cabinet had 27 members, and seven berths were vacant.

At the ceremony, Yediyurappa along with his Cabinet members and other BJP leaders, including General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, were present.

This was the third time that the Yediyurappa-led Cabinet was expanded. The chief minister assumed office on July 2019 after the previous Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government collapsed. The ministers, who were sworn in on Wednesday, are a combination of turncoats from the previous Congress-JD(S) regime.

BJP MLCs Shankar and Nagaraj, who purportedly helped the saffrom party come to power in Karnataka, are being inducted into the Cabinet. Yogeshwar, who reportedly played a significant role by managing the rebel MLAs in 2019, is also getting a Cabinet post. However, RR Nagar MLA N Munirathna, who was among the rebel legislators, did not make it to the list of those being sworn in after Yediyurappa said during campaigns of the bye-elections in the constituency in November that he will be made a minister after being elected.

After Shankar, Nagaraj and Yogeshwar’s induction, the number of MLCs in the ministry rose to five, with Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi and Muzrai Minister Kota Srinivas Poojari already in the Karnataka Cabinet.

Resentment among BJP leaders

The Cabinet expansion has caused a bit of concern in the BJP, with some expressing reservations about the MLCs who were not elected being made ministers, absence of representation of certain regions, and the “seniority or sacrifice” being ignored.

Vijayapura City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, a critical of Yediyurappa, has accused him of making appointments with blackmail, without considering seniority or honesty, reported PTI. “Three people – one political secretary and two ministers – have been blackmailing with some of Yediyurappa’s CDs for three months,” he told the news agency. “One who will become minister today, along with CD blackmail, was also involved in payment of money to Vijayendra [Yediyurappa’s son].”

He also challenged the Karnataka chief minister and demanded his resignation. “I challenge you [Yediyurappa] ahead of Makara Sankranti that from Uttarayana your [political] end will begin and a new period will start under PM Modi in Karnataka,” he said.

MLC AH Vishwanth, also among one of those to rebel in 2019, said it was because of the “sacrifice” of Nagesh and Munirathna that “you are CM today...instead you are making Yogeshwar a minister, who has fraud and cheating cases against him”.

Honnali MLA and the chief minister’s political secretary MP Renukacharya told PTI: “Injustice has happened to Hyderabad Karnataka, central and coastal Karnataka regions. It [government or Cabinet] is limited to Bengaluru and Belagavi....I’m upset, to whom should I tell this.”