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Unhappy with manner of change in portfolio, Sriramulu likely to meet BJP high command

Senior Minister B. Sriramulu is said to be deeply upset with how the Health and Family Welfare Department has been wrested from him. As he is learnt to have decided to approach the BJP high command over the “injustice meted out to him”, the Cabinet reshuffle fiasco Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has carried out without consulting with the central leadership now threatens to backfire against him, sources in the party said. Mr. Yediyurappa is said to have reached out to Mr. Sriramulu and the duo are likely to meet over breakfast on Tuesday.

Mr. Sriramulu is upset with the timing of the change in portfolio though he is not averse to the Social Welfare Department, sources close to him said. In fact, he had sought the department over Health and Family Welfare in 2019, but the Chief Minister was insistent. Ever since COVID-19 became an issue from March, he has been deeply upset with how he has been sidelined. “By stripping him of COVID-19 responsibilities and now the ministry itself, the Chief Minister seems to have expressed his lack of confidence in Mr. Sriramulu’s efficiency, which no political leader will accept,” a source close to the leader said.

The Minister, when he met Mr. Yediyurappa on Monday morning, is said to have protested the portfolio of Backward Classes Welfare, related to Social Welfare, being wrested from him. “Social Welfare and Backward Classes Welfare are essentially one ministry, divided only recently on an ad-hoc basis. The move doesn’t make sense,” he is learnt to have argued. Mr. Sriramulu is also apprehensive that he may be trapped in a quagmire of competing claims and interests that have emerged for reservation recently — the increase of reservation to Scheduled Tribe, of which he is also a part, internal reservation for Scheduled Caste, and Kurubas demanding ST tag, sources close to him said.

Mr. Yediyurappa had almost signalled that he would choose Mr. Sriramulu as a Deputy Chief Minister during the 2018 Assembly polls. While Mr. Sriramulu has repeatedly expressed his wish to get the title, his tenure in the government has only been seen as a series of demotions — not being made Deputy CM, being divested of COVID-19 responsibilities during the pandemic, and now being divested of the Health portfolio.

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