Rahul Gandhi Gives Shape to List of Ministers for Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet With Eye on 2019
Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have given his nod to the list of around 12 ministers, which includes D K Shivakumar, who is likely to get an important portfolio.
File photo of HD Kumaraswamy with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and several other opposition leaders in Bengaluru. (File photo: PTI)
Bengaluru/New Delhi: HD Kumaraswamy will expand his two-member cabinet on Wednesday, two weeks after taking oath as the Karnataka chief minister, with over 20 ministers likely to take oath. Sources said while the JD-S will have nine new ministers, the Congress will have 12 of its legislators inducted into the cabinet.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi finalised the names at a meeting with senior Karnataka leaders in Delhi on Tuesday. Former chief minister Siddharamaiah, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara and party leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao, D K Shivakumar and K C Venugopal were present in the meeting.
Though there was no official word from the Congress, Gandhi is learnt to have given his nod to the list of around 12 ministers, which includes D K Shivakumar, who is likely to get an important portfolio.
Gandhi met the Karnataka leaders for over an hour and gave final shape to the list of ministers, while according equitable representation to all sections and regions. The list, sources said, has been drawn while keeping an eye on the next year’s Lok Sabha elections, which the two allies will contest together.
The performance of the coalition government is being watched closely in view of the opposition show of strength at Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony last month. Any missteps in governance would play into the hands of the BJP and give it a chance to attack the idea of a federal front coming to power.
Sources said some portfolios may remain vacant on both sides to douse any discord in the two parties.
The Lone BSP MLA N Mahesh will also be a part of the cabinet expansion and will be given a key portfolio. JD-S secretary general Danish Ali said, "We will give due importance to our pre-poll ally, the BSP by giving its lone MLA a ministerial berth."
He also disclosed that BSP supremo Mayawati has deputed its senior leader Satish Chandra Misra to attend the cabinet expansion function. This is the first time that the BSP will be a part of a government outside of Uttar Pradesh.
Kumaraswamy said there would be "two to three vacancies" which would be filled later. After the meeting, deputy chief minister and KPCC chief G Parameshwara said the Congress ministers would be a combination of seniors and juniors, setting at rest speculation that juniors wanted the seniors to pave the way for them.
"There is no such thing like priority to senior or junior (in allocation of portfolios)," he said in Delhi before his meeting with the central leadership.
Only Kumaraswamy, along with his deputy Parameshwara, were sworn-in on May 23. According to the power sharing arrangement, the Congress would have a total of 22 ministers while the JD-S will have 12, including the chief minister.
According to official sources, Governor Vajubhai Vala will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at 2:12 PM at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.
The Congress and the JD(S) have also decided on the allocation of portfolios between them as part of the power sharing agreement.
According to the agreement, Congress will get the portfolios of Home, Irrigation, Bangalore City Development, Industry and Sugar Industry, Health, Revenue,Urban
Development, Rural Development, Agriculture, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and IT/BT, among others.
The JDS portfolios include Finance, Excise, Information, Intelligence, Public Works Department, Power,Cooperation, Tourism, Education and Transport.
The ministry expansion exercise has been a complicated affair for both Congress and JD(S), as hectic parleys and lobbying were on for the last fifteen days.
Ever since the chief minister proved his majority on the floor of the assembly on May 25, both parties were driving a hard bargain until Friday last when they announced a power
sharing agreement, giving a full five-year term to Kumaraswamy.
Yielding ground, Congress had conceded the plum Finance and Power portfolio to its junior partner, resolving a thorny issue.
The power sharing arrangement, particularly giving "cart blanche" to Kumaraswamy for full five years, has caused discontent in the Congress, with some of its leaders believing that it has been yielding much more than required to its junior partner.
In JD(S), several senior party MLAs were seen making a beeline to party supremo Deve Gowda's residence for ministers posts. There are also reports of some disgruntlement over the party's decision to keep members of the legislative council out of the ministry.
Kumaraswamy, meanwhile, ruled out any differences among JD(S) MLAs over cabinet berths and allocation of portfolios and said Gowda has been given total freedom on the next phase of cabinet expansion. Both the JD(S) and the Congress are likely to accord due representation to the caste combination and regional balance.
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