The expansion of the H.D. Kumaraswamy ministry, slated for Wednesday, has again been put off following the small rebellion that has broken out in the BJP over deputy chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa's insistence on the inclusion of first-time MLC Shobha Karandlaje.
Although there are elected women MLAs (like Shakuntala Shetty of Puttur) and more experienced women MLCs (like Vimala Gowda), Yediyurappa will have nothing of it. With the party already having come under fire for ignoring elected MLAs in favour of MLCs when the ministry was first formed, the latest trouble is far from good news.
An influential section of the party, comprising former State unit presidents and current ministers K.S. Eswarappa and Jagadish Shettar, and health minister R. Ashok—who owe allegiance to H.N. Ananth Kumar—are said to be at daggers drawn with Yediyurappa over the inclusion of nine of his supporters in the cabinet.
Questions: Will the Shobha Karandlaje issue once again revive factionalism in the BJP? Could it result in a split in the party as it very nearly did in early 2005? Or will the BJP topbrass step in and succeed in averting any such possibility? And should MLCs, first time or otherwise, get preference over MLAs in ministries?