Portfolio allotment is a delicate exercise for any Chief Minister, leave alone a newly-sworn-in one. And Karnataka’s Basavaraj Bommai has not been able to keep all of his cabinet colleagues happy.
Anand Singh, who came to national attention as a Congress MLA involved in a scuffle at a resort during the collapse of the state’s coalition government in 2019, has said he is not satisfied with the portfolio — tourism, ecology, and environment — he has been given.
“I had not asked for this. I can only say that whatever request I made has not been met. As a party person, I am not prepared to comment about this. I will meet the Chief Minister once again and make my request once more,” Mr Singh told reporters in his home district of Ballari.
MTB Nagaraj, too, is reportedly unhappy with being put in charge of municipal administration and sugarcane. He’s another former Congress leader who switched loyalties to help bring down, in 2019, the Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition headed by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.
Mr Nagaraj then contested a by-election from his former seat Hoskote and lost, only to be made a member of the state Legislative Council.
“I have discussed everything with him (Anand Singh). He has also shared his feelings. I told him ‘I understand your feelings. I will do whatever is necessary to keep your self-respect’. He has agreed and gone. I will also speak to MTB Nagaraj,” said Mr Bommai, who himself was sworn in as Karnataka Chief Minister only on July 28.
Days after the August 4 Cabinet reshuffle, he had addressed reports of the dissatisfaction saying, “Everyone can’t get the portfolios they want.”
Many of the more influential ministers have retained the portfolios they had under Mr Bommai’s predecessor, BS Yediyurappa.
Indications are that the murmurs over ministries, as of now, may only cause some embarrassment rather than real harm.
For instance, Mr Singh isn’t keen on creating any trouble for Mr Bommai and the BJP.
“I don’t want to comment again and again in front of the media and talk about the portfolio distribution. I don’t want to make any statement that will cause embarrassment to the Chief Minister of our state,” he said.
Yet, the potential row is among the first political challenges faced by the new Chief Minister.