In an unprecedented move, Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa named three Deputy Chief Ministers, a first for the state.
After a wait of almost a month, the newly formed Karnataka government is slowing shaping up. On August 26, CM Yediyurappa appointed Govind Makthappa Karajol, Ashwath Narayan CN and Laxman Sangappa Savadi as the deputy CMs of Karnataka.
Recently, Andra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy appointed five deputy CMs.
It may be noted that the post of Deputy Chief Minister finds no mention in the Indian Constitution.
Karnataka’s 3 Deputy CM
Of the three deputy CMs, Karajol has been allotted the Public Works Department. Narayan has been allocated the higher education department, Information Technology and Bio-Technology, and Science and Technology department. Savadi has been given the transport department. The three ministers come from scheduled caste, vokkaliga and lingayat community each.
CM Yediyurappa has been given all the unallocated portfolios.
The selection of the Deputy CMs has left several disgruntled in the BJP. KS Eshwarappa and R Ashok, who have previously served as deputy chief ministers in BJP governments have now been given portfolios of rural development and revenue ministry (respectively).
Dy CM/PM Is Not A Constitutional Post
Many states, including Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka have deputy chief ministers. There has been a trend of one deputy CM in a state, however, over time, this has been scaled to two, three, even five Deputy CMs to placate various factions.
India has also had Deputy Prime Ministers in the past, which again is not a constitutional office and as such does not enjoy any specific powers. The post is at par with Home Minister or the Finance Minister.
Two-and-a-half years before the Constitution was adopted, the Jawaharlal Nehru-led government in independent India got its first deputy PM in Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The last person to hold the post was Lal Krishna Advani between 2002 and 2004.
Interestingly, a major controversy was born in 1989 when Devi Lala, Jat leader from Harayana, during his swearing-in as a minister in 1989 insisted on being referred to as deputy PM. The then President R Venkataraman corrected him twice, but he continued to refer himself as ‘Upa-Pradhan Mantri’ (Deputy PM).
In a book ‘Commissions and Omissions of Indian President’, former President Venkataraman was quoted, “When I administered the oath as ‘mantri’, he insisted on reading it as ‘upa pradhan mantri’. I corrected him saying ‘mantri’ again but the second time too he read it as ‘upa pradhan mantri’. It was fully displayed in the live telecast of the proceedings. I did not want to create an ugly scene and therefore allowed him to proceed as he wished.”
In most case, several senior and important leaders are bestowed such posts so as to not ‘upset’ them and nip any possible attempt of revolt in the party/government.