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'Everything is Settled': Congress, JDS Reach Cabinet Consensus, to Fight 2019 Elections Together

The division of portfolios has come after several days of bargaining between the two alliance partners that delayed the expansion of Cabinet in Karnataka.

Updated:June 1, 2018, 11:46 PM IST
New Delhi: After days of hectic negotiations, the JDS and Congress finally reached a consensus on expanding the Karnataka Cabinet on Friday and also announced that the two parties will fight the 2019 elections together as a pre-poll alliance.

“Everything is settled now,” said Congress general secretary KC Venugopal as he announced that the party has conceded the plum finance ministry to the JDS. In return, it will get the crucial home department. The power-sharing arrangement between the two alliance partners was finalized after over five rounds of meetings since Thursday.

The thorny issues was resolved after the Congress top central leadership stepped in, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi speaking to Kumaraswamy on Friday. "Little bit of issues came in the form of finance portfolio. Congress president Rahul Gandhi himself gave directions to us that this coalition government is the need of the hour of the country," Venugopal said as he read out a joint statement signed by him and JDS secretary general Danish Ali at a press conference.

Kumaraswamy, his predecessor Siddaramaiah and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge were present. The two parties voiced their "firm resolve" to ensure that the coalition government headed by HD Kumaraswamy would complete its full five-year term.

Apart from the Finance, which was proving to be the biggest sticking point, Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) will also get Excise, Information, Intelligence, Public Works Department, Power, Cooperation, Tourism, Education and Transport. In all, the party will get 12 ministries, while the Congress will get 22.

Congress, on the other hand, would get the portfolios of Home, Irrigation, Bangalore City Development, Industry and Sugar Industry, Health, Revenue, Urban Development; Rural Development, Agriculture, Housing, Social Welfare, Forest and Environment, Labour, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and IT/BT, among others.

Energy portfolio had also emerged as a thorny issue in the negotiations, with state senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar, who was the key person who kept the Congress flock together during the political drama, reportedly keen on it.

The rest of the portfolios would be decided by the chief minister in consultation with the deputy chief minister, Venugopal said. The ministry would be expanded on June 6, Kumaraswamy said.

Kumaraswamy said he and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara met the Governor Vajubhai Vala and asked for his time for the swearing-in but due to his prior engagement in Delhi from June 3 to 5th evening, "ultimately he has given the time for Wednesday 2 pm."

It had also been decided that the Congress and JDS would fight the next Lok Sabha elections as pre-poll allies, the joint statement said, adding, the exact distribution of seats would be worked out and announced later. JDS and Congress had stitched up a post-poll alliance at the state level after the recent assembly polls yielded a fractured mandate with BJP emerging as the single largest party, falling short of the required numbers.

A common agenda for governance based on the manifesto of both the parties would be prepared and presented to the people of the state at the earliest, the statement said. The two parties also announced a coalition Coordination and Monitoring Committee which would meet at least one in a month.

The committee comprises Kumaraswamy, Parameshwara, Siddaramaiah, Venugopal and Danish Ali.

Siddaramaiah would be the chairman and Ali the convenor of the coalition Coordination and Monitoring Committee. Under the agreement, all appointments to statutory boards and corporations would be cleared by the coordination committee.

Two-thirds of the posts will be Congress appointees and one-third JDS. The two coalition partners also resolved to provide a transparent, accountable and responsive administration, giving the highest priority to farmers, youth and women, to ensuring economic growth in all regions of the state and to promoting social justice and communal harmony.

"The coalition government will be for all sections of Karnataka society," the statement said. Kumaraswamy was sworn in as chief minister on May 23. Two days later on May 25, he proved the majority on the floor of the assembly. BJP had conceded the numbers game with B S Yeddyurappa resigning on May 19 without facing the trust vote.

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