Karnataka Gets New Health Minister In The Middle Of Pandemic: A Brief Recap Of Events Since March

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 14, 2020 09:48 AM
Karnataka Gets New Health Minister In The Middle Of Pandemic: A Brief Recap Of Events Since March Outgoing Minister for Health and current Minister for Social Welfare B Sriramulu and Minister for Health and Medical Education Dr Sudhakar, with CM B S Yediyurappa
  • Outgoing Health Minister B Sriramulu is now given the responsibility of the Social Welfare Ministry, while K Sudhakar, who was already handling Medical Education, has been given charge of the health department as well.

    A quick recap of events since March, however, would reveal that such a rejig was always on the cards.

Rising Covid-19 cases, multiple turnarounds in protocol and other such pandemic-related issues be as they may, Karnataka's battle against Corona had an additional variable to deal with for the last few months — the battle over the handling of the pandemic in the state due to a split portfolio among two ministers.

This had led to multiple and often contrasting statements regarding key issues, which had been time and again reported by the media too.

While on one hand, there was Minister for Health B Sriramulu, who had initially not been happy with the ministry allotted, at the other was Dr Sudhakar, the 'nouveau BJP' leader from Chickaballapur, who was allotted the Ministry for Medical Education.

While the overall handling of the pandemic by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is said to have worked in his favour, strengthening his grip over the chair for the time being, the same isn't true for his cabinet minister Sriramulu, who has suddenly been stripped of the health portfolio.

B Sriramulu was seen travelling all over the state as the pandemic began, but as far as their statements were concerned, the Minister for Medical Education was being touted as overshadowing Sriramulu's efforts. Time and again, reports of differences between the two ministries were seen as causing embarrassment to the state cabinet, with numerous clarifications from both sides that all was well.

But this 'demotion' of a kind had already been on the cards for Sriramulu, as once before too, such a notification had been issued just a few days in to the pandemic hitting the state.

The tug of war between the 'defected member' and the party old-timer had seen Sriramulu being taken off the responsibility of handling Covid-19 operations in the last week of March 2020.

In a gazette notification that was signed by Governor Vajubhai Vala, the portfolios of the two ministers were reallocated, only to be reinstated in less than 24 hours.

Sudhakar was then asked to handle the Ministry of Medical Education with the added responsibility of Covid-19 in Bengaluru and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) ‘war room’, while Sriramulu was to handle operations in the rest of the state.

But looks like the minor additional allocation to Sudhakar was just the beginning, as the minister has finally been given full charge of the ministry he sought within six months of the above series of events.

But to ensure that the disappointment to Sriramulu is minimal, the popular tribal leader has been handed the ministry of his first choice — that of social welfare — which was earlier allocated to Deputy CM Govind Karjol. The backward classes portfolio that he handled has been taken back by the CM.

Although, the way in which this has been executed seems to have not gone down well with Sriramulu, as per reports. He is said to have tried to reach the party high command but to no avail. The new Minister for Health, on his part, has called the rejig an effort to ensure 'better coordination between the departments' and denied any 'question of one-upmanship'.

Both the outgoing and the new in-charge of the health portfolio met Yediyurappa yesterday, after which Sudhakar, addressing the media, said that the lack of coordination that existed between the two departments would be sorted out and that this change will help "further streamline the government's efforts to bring Corona under control".

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