34-member ministry headed by Jagadish Shettar Thursday took office
in Karnataka, the third Bharatiya Janata Party government in fours
years, with two deputy chief ministers for the first time in the
Shettar, 56, who will have a short-term in office as assembly
elections are due May next, promised a corruption-free,
transparent and honest administration.
The first priority, however, he told a press meet after the first
cabinet meet, would be to tackle the drought, particularly
drinking water shortage, affecting more than half the state.
Shettar and the ministers were administered the oath of office and
secrecy by Governor H. R. Bhardwaj at a simple ceremony in the
glass house of Raj Bhavan.
The BJP, battered by dissidence and corruption scandals ever since
it came to power for the first time in the state in May 2008,
completed the ministry formation in one go to satisfy various
factions in the party.
The two deputy chief ministers are K.S. Eshwarappa, who is the
state BJP unit chief, and R. Ashoka, who was home minister in the
D.V. Sadananda Gowda ministry which quit Wednesday.
The state can have a 34-member ministry, including the chief
minister, as the law limits the strength to 15 percent of the
elected members of the assembly. The Karnataka assembly strength
is 225, of which one is a nominated member to represent the
However, the BJP's plans still left many disgruntled with a
legislator from the coastal area of Kundapur, Haladi Srinivas
Shetty, breaking down at being denied a berth and his supporters
shouting slogans against party leadership.
Trying to placate caste groups the BJP, which came to power in the
state for the first time in May 2008, has given Karnataka two
deputy chief ministers for the first time.
The BJP's caste balancing act at the top level of government has
already earned its new setup a nickname - LKG regime - L standing
for Lingayat, K for Kuruba (shepherd community) and G for Gowda (Vokkaliga
Shettar is a Lingayat, Eshwarappa belongs to Kuruba community and
Ashoka is a Vokkaliga.
The new chief minister appealed for cooperation from his
ministers, party legislators and opposition parties in running the
"I will strive to take all together and provide a clean,
corruption-free, honest and effective governance," Shettar said.
The new chief minister's stress on corruption-free administration
comes against the backdrop of various scandals that rocked BJP's
first ministry headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was forced to quit
last July over mining bribery charges.
Besdies Yeddyurappa, around 20 of 120 BJP legislators, including
several ministers, are fighting corruption and illegal land deals
cases against them.
Shettar himself was Wednesday slapped with a complaint in
Lokayukta (ombudsman) court alleging that he had violated rules to
free 176 acres of government land when he was revenue minister six
years ago in the Janata Dal-Secular-BJP coalition government.
The Lokayukta court judge N.K Sudhindra Rao said he will decide
July 21 whether the allegation in the complaint needs a probe.
Shettar denied wrong denying and said he will fight the case
Shettar succeeds Gowda, who quit Wednesday. Gowda became the chief
minister August 4 last year after Yeddyurappa resigned July 31.
Gowda fell victim to the dissidence that had hit the party almost
from the beginning of its maiden rule in the state in May 2008.
The ministers who took oath Thursday are: Govind Karjola, C.M.
Udasi, Basavaraj Bommai, Vishwanath Hegde Kageri, S. Suresh Kumar,
Umesh Katti, Murugesh Nirani, V. Somanna, Shobha Karandlaje, M.P.
Renukacharya, C.P. Yogeshwar, B.N. Bachche Gowda, Revu Naik
Belamagi, Balachandra Jarkiholi, Anand Asnotikar, S.A. Ramdas, A.
Narayanswamy, S. A. Ravindra Nath, C.T. Ravi, D.N. Jeevraj, Raju
Gowda, S.K. Bellubbi, S. Shivanna, Varthur Prakash, Arvind
Limbavali, Anand Singh, B.J. Puttaswamy, Appachu Ranjan, Kalakappa
Bandi, Sunil Vallyapur, and Kota Srinivas Pujari.
Shobha Karandlaje remains the lone woman member in the ministry
while Varthur Prakash is an independent supporting the BJP.