With the date for swearing-in of the coalition government in Karnataka approaching, the cabinet formation will be the next big-ticket item on JD(S)-Congress agenda. The strength of the alliance will be tested thoroughly as it faces the various pulls and pressures of power-sharing and portfolio distribution.
Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy is likely to take oath as Karnataka's new chief minister on Wednesday after BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa's resignation.
But as Karnataka prepares to witness a second chief minister swear in within a week on Wednesday, the fact that Kumaraswamy and his party (37 seats) fought the election opposing the present coalition partner, Congress (78 seats), is posing challenges that the leadership of two parties can't ignore.
Kumaraswamy's delicate balancing act in allocating portfolios, with its post-poll ally Congress demanding representation in various posts, is certain to strain the delicate balance of the alliance.
But Kumaraswamy maintains the there are no rumblings of discontent over cabinet formation, as the stakeholders are yet to deliberate on the issue. Media reports on cabinet formation are not realistic, he told reporters after visiting the Manjunatheshwara temple at Dharmasthala.
Meanwhile, Hindustan Times reported that people familiar with the matter said that Congress leader G Parameshwara is likely to become the deputy chief minister and home minister. Kumaraswamy, meanwhile, is likely to keep the finance portfolio with himself. According to the people quoted by the report, most portfolios in Kumaraswamy's council of ministers have been decided, though they added that this list could eventually change.
Congress is said to be keen on giving an important portfolio to DK Shivkumar, as per this India Today report, who played a key role in "safeguarding" the Congress-JD(S) MLAs from the alleged poaching attempts by the BJP.
Sources privy to the negotiations told India Today that the Congress and JD(S) are mulling over a '20-13 formula' for sharing of cabinet berths. The Congress with 78 MLAs will get 20 cabinet posts while the JDS will take 13, the report said.
Meanwhile, the compulsions of striking a caste and regional balance in the distribution of power is likely to force the coalition partners to have two deputies for the chief minister.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, while Parameshwara is almost certain to get one, there is a strong demand from Congress leaders from northern Karnataka to get a deputy post, preferably belonging to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community. According to party sources, MB Patil, SR Patil and HK Patil are the front-runners for the second deputy chief minister post.
"We have received the demand for having two deputy chief minister posts. Party high command will take a final call on this," Parameshwara said after meeting with party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Venugopal and Ashok Gehlot, as per the report.
ANI reported sources as saying that speaker for Karnataka Assembly will be from Congress. The Speaker's name is likely to be announced by Tuesday evening by local leaders.
Here's the likely list of Karnataka cabinet portfolios, as per sources quoted by the Hindustan Times report:
JD(S): Kumaraswamy, chief minister and finance minister; CS Puttaraju, agriculture; H Vishwanath, education; N Mahesh, social welfare; GT Deve Gowda, cooperatives; Bandeppa Kashempur, textiles and endowments; DC Thammanna, labour; RV Deshpande, law and parliamentary affairs; AT Ramaswamy, industries.
Congress: G Parameshwara, deputy chief minister and home minister; KJ George, Bengaluru development minister; M Krishnappa, sport; Krishna Byre Gowda, information and publicity; Dinesh Gundu Rao, excise; Dr K Sudhakar, health; Tanveer Sait, higher education; Roshan Baig, forest; MD Patil, food and civil supplies; Satish Jarkiholi, small industries and sugar; Dr Ajay, science and technology; S Shivashankarappa, revenue; Ramalinga Reddy, transport; R Narendra, animal husbandry; UT Khader, health.
Kumaraswamy had on Monday met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to discuss ministerial berth sharing between the coalition partners. The details of the meeting were not divulged but Kumaraswamy said the matter will be finalised when the two sides sit together on Tuesday in Bengaluru.
Kumaraswamy had earlier met Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and discussed plans of putting in place a Congress and JD(S) coalition government. The JD(S) contested the Karnataka election in a pre-poll alliance with the BSP and later had a post-poll tie-up with the Congress.
Meanwhile, the Congress has authorised its general secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal to discuss the matter with local Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. He will also discuss the issue with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leadership.
The Congress, which finished second with 78 seats, moved swiftly and stitched an alliance with the 37-member JD(S), and even backed Kumaraswamy for chief ministership, plunging the state into a welter of confusion, with accusations of bribery and poaching flying thick and fast. The newly formed alliance has claimed support of 117 MLAs in the 224-member House with an effective strength of 221.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: May 22, 2018 15:26 PM