Denied berth, Munirathna becomes most talked about BJP MLA in Karnataka

Bengaluru: Bengaluru city MLA Munirathna was the most talked about lawmaker in Karnataka on Wednesday as his exclusion from the Cabinet turned out to be a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

No BJP leader, including chief minister BS Yediyurappa provided an explanation as to why the RR Nagar MLA was denied a cabinet berth.

Munirathna was among the 17 MLAs from the JD(S) and Congress to resign their Assembly membership and cross over to the BJP to help it form the government in 2019.Yediyurappa had publicly promised all of them positions in his ministry as a reward for their `sacrifice.’

There are various theories swirling around as possible reasons for his exclusion. One of which is a high court case that has ensnared him in a fake voter ID scam. RR Nagar had made headlines in the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections, after the Election Commission raided an apartment and seized over 9,000 voter ID cards of people from the constituency. Munirathna’s name had figured in the scam and the BJP had then accused him of indulging in election malpractice.

In changed circumstances, Munirathna contested on a BJP ticket in last November bypolls and won against the Congress candidate with a huge margin of 58,000 votes. A day after the election results, the Karnataka High Court ordered re-examination of charge-sheets in the voter ID scandal in which he is one of the accused.

The government has appointed an IPS officer to review the charge-sheet, who is expected to submit his report to the court this month. “With the case hearing on, Munirathna’s induction into the cabinet could possibly cause embarrassment to the party in future. That is precisely why the chief minister has bought time to decide,” a party source told ET.

Another version suggested an influential BJP leader in Delhi red-flagged his induction, rendering Yediyurappa helpless. The party sources are claiming that the chief minister will have him on board at the next cabinet reshuffle in March.

The RR Nagar MLA, a source said, had requested the BJP bosses to make use of him for the organizational work as he possessed language skills. It’s not known if the BJP made use of this offer as a ruse to throw a spanner in his works.

Unlike other BJP MLAs, Munirathna, though was sulking at the apparent insult, did not attack the party or the chief minister in public.

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