In BSY's Lingayat-heavy cabinet, caste-region balance goes for a toss

Bengaluru has nine ministers, Belagavi has five. Mumbai-Karnataka region with eight districts is represented in the cabinet by a dozen members. Fourteen districts are without a minister.

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Bengaluru: Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa now heads a cabinet one third of which are LingayatsKarnataka’s largest caste group he is part of. Yet, the Hyderabad-Karnataka region consisting of seven districts and dominated by Lingayats has just two ministers.

There are seven ministers from the Vokkaliga community – the caste grouping that is next to Lingayats in terms of dominance. The other influential community, Kuruba, has four members.

Bengaluru Urban and Belagavi have a lion’s share in the cabinet: while the capital has nine ministers, Belagavi has five.


The Mumbai-Karnataka region with eight districts is represented in the cabinet by a dozen members. Yediyurappa, however, has successfully resisted attempts to have his bitter critic Basavanagouda Patil Yatnal on board.

Fourteen districts - Hassan, Chamarajanagar, Mysuru, Kolar, Davanagere, Kodagu, Bengaluru Rural, Kalaburgi, Yadagir, Koppala, Raichur, Vijayapura, Chikkamagaluru and Ballari - are without a minister. The chief minister has drafted ministers from other districts to oversee administration in these districts.

Political analysts say such a bloated caste-regional imbalance was only to be expected as the BJP formed the government piggybacking on MLAs imported from the Opposition parties through ‘Operation Lotus’ – a strategy by which Opposition MLAs would resign to cut the Assembly’s strength so that the BJP crosses the half-way mark.
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Thanks to the successful completion of Operation Lotus in 2019, Bengaluru itself has five turncoat MLAs, of which four are ministers. “Never in the political history of Karnataka has regional and caste imbalance so pronounced as it is today. It looks more like an upper-caste dominated cabinet,” political analyst S Mahadeva Prakash said.

According to him, while the three major communities of Lingayats, Vokkaligas and Kurubas are only 37% of Karnataka’s population, they occupy two-thirds of the Cabinet positions. Political watchers say dominant caste groupings have eaten into the share of SC/STs and minorities who usually take about eight to 10 berths.

Opposition leader Siddaramaiah (Congress), in a tweet, said the cabinet expansion by the chief minister reflected the BJP's beliefs of suppressing marginalised sections. "They have never valued social justice and equality. The regional and caste imbalance is evident in the cabinet expansion," he said.
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