So Yeddyurappa has been finally sworn in as the CM of Karnataka, this time hopefully for a longer period. Some 29 people have already been sworn in with him, leaving just four more slots (there is a limit of 34 on the size of the ministry). Trouble has already started brewing as some senior leaders and long-term MLAs (such as Jagadish Shetter, Shankar Linge Gowda and A Narayanaswamy (Anekal) ) haven’t been accommodated in the ministry. There are reported to have been protests all over the state yesterday regarding this.
Apart from this, a number of districts have gone un-represented in the ministry. This includes BJP strongholds such as Chickmaglur, Hubli-Dharwad, Gadag and Coorg. It also includes other “important” districts such as Mysore. There seems to have been some effort to promote a caste balance in the ministry (I’ve read reports that Yogish Bhat of Mangalore wasn’t accommodated because there are already “too many Brahmins”; and that senior leader D H Shankara Murthy (a Vysya) wasn’t given a slot since there was only one slot for that community which went to Krishnaiah Setty of Malur). They seem to have tried to achieve some kind of a balance but dissidence won’t die down. Hopefully, they’ll manage to somehow hold the party together the way Arun Jaitley did it for them in the run-up to the elections.
Now, looking at the general reactions to this, statements, etc. it is clear that a cabinet position is an entitlement. So how should a party go about doing this? What kind of people should the party select in order to ensure optimum performance? For starters, let us assume that the objective of the party is to successfully remain in government for five years, AND to come back to power the next election (Leave a comment with reasons if you think this is not a fair assumption).
For starters, it should be made clear to the members of the party that good performance will be rewarded. There should be an objective measure under which performance is measured, and the best performers should be rewarded. Now, what constitutes performance? Maybe building up or strengthening the party in a particular region. Maybe serving in the party office in various roles and excelling at them. Maybe having a strong hand to play in the good performance of the party in a region. I don’t have any experience in politics to be able to say anything definitive in the regard. All that I’m saying is that the party should keep this “reward for good performance” mantra in mind.
To rephrase what I just said, most of the people who are made ministers should be of the type that are looked up to by a significant section of the party. The way the ministry is selected should be such that ordinary party workers and MLAs are encouraged to do more work, in the hope that some day it will get them into the ministry.
There is one small caveat. We are all culturally inclined to classify people based on community and region, and also tend to look at everything else from this kind of perspective. Hence, care must be taken that no community or region feels alienated. I don’t mean to say that it’s compulsory to proportionally represent all communities and regions. However, no prominent regions/communities should be left out. Which is exactly what the people of Hubli-Dharwad district will be feeling now – no ministers despite giving BJP a 6-1 victory. Similarly with Chickmaglur where BJP has a 4-1 victory. This is sheer irresponsibility on the part of Yeddyurappa and other BJP leaders.
Then there is the issue with new members of the party. The party should make sure not to give too many ministries to these guys – that kind of a move may kill the enthusiasm of people who have been working for the party for decades. Sometimes, new faces might have been poached to add strength in a particular area or something – for which they will demand some compensation. However, the party should ensure not too much is given away to the newcomers.