Honey, I stretched the cabinet!

Jul 06, 2009, 09:06 IST | B V Shiva Shankar

There goes the law that limits the size of the state cabinet to 33. Though Yeddyurappa snatched away the housing and muzrai ministry from Setty to give it to Somanna, the former is as good as a minister

There goes the law that limits the size of the state cabinet to 33. Though Yeddyurappa snatched away the housing and muzrai ministry from Setty to give it to Somanna, the former is as good as a minister

Krishnaiah Setty may have lost his ministry to V Somanna last month but he's still controlling the muzrai department.

Setty was minister for housing and muzrai before he made way for Somanna, who defected from the Congress to join the BJP. Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had asked Setty to step down since the law limits the size of the cabinet to 33.

But Yeddyurappa has made Setty chairman of the newly-created muzrai board that will look after temples under government control, allowing him much the same powers as before.

"It's a clever move to circumvent the act that restricts the cabinet size," said a source in BJP. "But it's unethical."

The deal

All the CM's men: Ministers R Ashok (left), Anant Kumar (centre) and  V Somanna (extreme right) pose with Yeddyurappa file pic

As per the deal, Somanna is officially the minister for housing and muzrai but in reality, the portfolio has actually been divided between him and Setty. Somanna looks after housing and Setty muzrai though the former will sign papers for both departments.

Somanna justified the division saying they were merely using Setty's expertise. "That does not mean he controls the ministry. I am the minister," he added. However, he gave it all away when he said, "As the minister, I will control the officers and he will look after the office, I mean, the administration, as an expert," he added. 

Happy, happy

Setty was not available for comment but is said to be a happy man and has already got cracking. "He is the man behind the government's decision to have compulsory morning pooja in all temples to appease the raingods.
The pooja has been performed since last Saturday," said a BJP source.

Six months back when he was the minister, Setty had ordered the temples to perform pooja every day in the name of Yeddyurappa. However, the embarrassed chief minister scrapped the orders after chiding him.

Temple ties: A truce story

The bigger story could be the government's decision to renovate temples across the state at a cost of more than Rs 120 crore. Krishnaiah Setty is incharge of the project, though not officially.

Last Thursday, minister for housing and muzrai V Somanna had announced that the government would undertake renovation of at least three temples in an assembly constituency, across the state.

Following the announcement, Somanna and Setty were seen in Hotel Janardana, near Race Course, discussing the issue. When this reporter spotted them at the hotel, Setty was thanking Somanna for the announcement and asking him to ensure a hassle-free implementation.

Somanna assured him that the officials would co-operate and he would not interfere.

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