Bangalore: Jagadish Shivappa Shettar was on Thursday sworn in at the head of a 34-member Ministry retaining all 21 outgoing ministers and inducting 11 new faces besides creating posts of two deputy chief ministers as the BJP did a tight- rope walk to please the warring factions in the party.
Giving into the demand of the camps led by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and his successor D V Sadananda Gowda, the party central leadership let Shettar retain all the 21 ministers in the outgoing cabinet.
In a balancing act, party state unit chief K S Eshwarappa, belonging to third largest community of Kurubas, and R Ashok from the second dominant Vokkaliga caste, were made deputy chief ministers, a first ever in the state`s history.
In the third leadership change in four years of BJP rule torn by persisting intra-party feud, Shettar was admistered the oath of office by Governor H R Bhardwaj.
Apparently aware of the need to refurbish the party`s image which had taken a beating with a spate of corruption charges against several leaders and never-ending infighting, Shettar said he would strive to provide an honest and good governance.
"We will try to give an honest, transparent and corruption-free government," he told reporters after presiding over the first meeting of his new Cabinet.
Seeking to cap the bitter factionalism that had repeatedly
put a question mark on the longevity of BJP`s first-ever government in the south, the party chose to strike a balance in representation to different factions and communities keeping in mind the assembly polls, less than a year away.
The BJP counts the Lingayats, the dominant community, as its vote base. Vokkaligas and Kurubas form the second and third largest groups respectively.
56-year-old Lingayat leader Shettar, propped by his foe-turned-friend and fellow community strongman Yeddyurappa, succeeds Sadananda Gowda.
Gowda, a Vokkaliga, had bowed out of office at the end of a 11-month shaky rule as Yeddyurappa kept up pressure to remove him.
Karnataka can have a maximum of 34 ministers, including the chief ministers, as per the Constitutional limit.
Coming from the RSS stable like his predecessors Yeddyurappa and Gowda, Shettar fits the bill in terms of the right caste, region and political background for the top post.
Soft-spoken Shettar, a lawyer, who had served as Minister and Assembly Speaker, comes from a family that`s rooted in the erstwhile Jan Sangh and hails from the backward north Karnataka region.
Life has come a full circle for Shettar who lost in the race for the chief ministership in August last year when Gowda, handpicked by Yeddyurappa to succeed him, defeated him in the BJP legislature party election.