Bengaluru: Adding to the existing discontent within the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the non-inclusion of several MLAs in the cabinet, Ramesh Jarkiholi on Saturday threatened to quit from his post as minister and MLA unless his colleague and confidant, Athani MLA Mahesh Kumatahalli, is not given his due.
Both MLAs had won the by-elections last December 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 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) (JDS) MLAs were fielded as BJP candidates — 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 his exclusion. He has since been sulking and has constantly reminded the BJP of its ‘Vachana Dharma’.
But on Saturday, Kumatahalli said he was no longer discontented. “No injustice has happened to me. The irrigation facility in our area has improved and we are quite content,” he added.
Kumatahalli said the projects pending for decades have now been taken up by the new government. To a question on the denial of ministerial berth he had reportedly been yearning for, he said, “When the time comes, I will become a minister.”
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.
Seventeen MLAs — 14 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) — had withdrawn support from the previous coalition government leading to its fall in July.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.
Yediyurappa had earlier promised to reward them with cabinet berths before they jumped ship to overthrow the previous JD(S)-Congress coalition government, headed by HD Kumaraswamy.
Admitting there was 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.