With the Udupi police giving a clean chit to former Minister K.S. Eshwarappa in the case of the death of a contractor, speculations are rife over whether he will be now reinducted into the Cabinet. While Mr. Eshwarappa has been lobbying hard for his reinduction, the final call on the matter will be taken by the party high command, sources in the party said.
Sources close to Mr. Eshwarappa argued that since the leader has now been absolved of all allegations of abetment of suicide that led to his resignation, it was imperative to be reinducted into the Cabinet. Ramesh Jarkiholi, another Minister who quit over a sex CD scandal and subsequently got a clean chit in a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe, is also lobbying hard to be inducted back. Associates close to both the leaders cite the example of Congress leader K.J. George who resigned in a similar case and was inducted back into the Cabinet after CID gave him a clean chit.
On his part, Mr. Eshwarappa, answering a question on his reinduction, said it was the party’s high command’s call and he would abide by it.
The question has gained an immediacy as Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who will be visiting New Delhi on Sunday, answering a question on Thursday, said, “Cabinet expansion would be discussed during his Delhi visit.” He also said the new list of appointees to boards and corporations would also be finalised after his Delhi visit.
Boards and corporations
The long pending exercise of Cabinet expansion was last put-off due to the Presidential elections. “The party recently made appointees to all boards and corporations resign to make way for a new set of workers to be accommodated there. Cabinet expansion/reshuffle will also likely happen along with it. There are hardly 10 months left for the Assembly polls,” said a senior party leader.
Party sources said that while Mr. Jarkiholi was likely to be inducted back into the Cabinet since the party had given him the word in 2019, when he led a team of rebel MLAs from Congress to BJP, bringing it to power, the same could not be told about Mr. Eshwarappa.
The age factor
“The party high command has been clear about retiring certain seniors in the State unit to make way for a new generation of leaders and Mr. Eshwarappa, 74, is one of them. His induction into the Basavaraj Bommai Cabinet itself was opposed. However, the party relented for his loyalty and the lack of OBC faces. Now the party is grooming younger leaders like Sunil Kumar as its next OBC faces,” a senior party strategist said.
However, the strategist also admitted that it would be difficult for the party to induct Mr. Jarkiholi on the grounds that he has got a clean chit and deny the same to Mr. Eshwarappa.