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After meeting CM, Sriramulu says he is happy with the new portfolio

Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa was able to convince senior Minister B. Sriramulu to accept the new portfolio given to him on Tuesday after holding a meeting with him and Medical Education Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar at his official residence.

Mr. Sriramulu, who was upset over the manner in which he was stripped of the Health portfolio that was given to Mr. Sudhakar, told reporters after meeting Mr. Yediyurappa that he had accepted the new responsibility of social welfare portfolio with happiness.

“In fact, I had requested the chief minister to give me social welfare portfolio when I was made minister. But I had then been allocated health department,” Mr. Sriramulu told reporters.

Stating that the health portfolio had been taken away from him due to technical reasons as it would be better for Mr. Sudhakar, who is a doctor, to handle the COVID-19 situation, he said, “Let us work together to provide relief to people of the state from COVID-19.”

He claimed that it was his opinion too for a long time that both health and medical education departments should be handled by one minister instead of the present system of bifurcating them.

The reshuffling had been made in the wake of constant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Karnataka at a time when other states have managed to reduce the number of cases.

To make-up for the stripping of Health Department, Mr. Sriramulu had been given social welfare portfolio which was taken away from Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol. But in the process, the chief minister had also taken away the backward classes portfolio from Mr. Sriramulu.

Mr. Sriramulu was said to be of the view that the manner in which the health portfolio was taken away from him would project him as inefficient. The chief minister reportedly advised Mr. Sriramulu, who has set his eyes on the deputy chief minister’s post, to be patient and to ensure that his dissatisfaction did not impact the party’s image during the run-up to the by-polls to two assembly seats.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sudhakar too tried to placate Mr. Sriramulu by describing him as an important leader who has been given the prominent portfolio of social welfare department. “In fact, his new department comes next only to Major Irrigation and PWD in terms of prominence,” he said.

“Sriramulu is not demoted as being projected by media. In fact, it is a promotion for him,” Mr. Sudhakar said, while maintaining that health portfolio had changed hands only for better co-ordination. “So far there was no proper co-ordination between the two departments at the ground-level as they were being headed by two ministers,” he said.

Though Mr. Sriramulu tried to project that he was happy with the new portfolio, he made an indirect mention that the COVID-19 cases had increased after Mr. Sudhakar took over the responsibility of handling the pandemic. “Earlier Mr. Sudhakar used to monitor the situation only in Bengaluru. When I left the responsibility [of monitoring the entire State], there used to be around 1,000 cases (per day in Bengaluru). Now we are seeing about 5,000 cases a day. It does not mean that Mr. Sudhakar is inefficient,” Mr. Sriramulu said, in an apparent attack against those who accused him of failure to handle the situation properly.

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