For 25 days, Karnataka endured a one-man administration as state chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa tended to the flood-affected alone, restricted from setting up a Cabinet by the BJP. On Tuesday, however, Mr Yediyurappa was finally given the green signal, but the new-look Cabinet that was sworn in may not be exactly what the Lingayat strongman had envisaged.
The caste calculus was right — the numerically significant Lingayat/Veerashaiva community, whose voters have continuously backed the BJP, topped the list, garnering seven berths while three Vokkaligas, three Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and two OBCs made up the rest. But in restricting Mr Yediyurappa to bringing in only four of his diehard supporters and leaving several stalwarts out such as eight-time legislator Umesh Katti, six-time legislator S. Angara, the CM's close aides M.P. Renukacharya and Murugesh Nirani as well as former Union minister Basavaraj Patil Yatnal and Balachandra Jarkiholi, who hails from the BJP stronghold of Belagavi, the CM may have been left with the short end of the stick.
Another Cabinet expansion to accommodate the 17 Congress-JD(S) rebels who brought down the H.D. Kumarswamy government is a given. But that does not gloss over the glaring omission of a lack of representation from north Karnataka and the coastal region, both BJP bastions, while accommodating Dr C.N. Ashwathnarayana and Laxman Savadi — who incidentally is neither an MLA nor an MLC — for bringing the Congress and JD(S) rebels on board.
The challenge that Mr Yediyurappa faces is not just in keeping his restive flock together — even if the Congress-JD(S) alliance has self-combusted and no longer poses a threat — but in ensuring that the sulking seniors don't sabotage his government even before it has taken off.