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HD Kumaraswamy says he is at Congress' 'mercy': Disagreements within JD(S)-Congress since Karnataka CM took oath of office

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has spent less than a week as the chief minister of Karnataka after being sworn-in on 23 May, but disagreements and "issues" have already begun cropping up as the two parties in the state's coalition government struggle to hold power.

Congress and JD(S) joined hands after 14 years in Karnataka to form the current state government. While JD(S) is reeling under the disappointment of not getting a simple majority, Congress is exercising its authority over it since it has more numbers in the Assembly.

In at least three scenarios, the coalition partners have expressed their differences so far. Here's a look at them:

'I am at the mercy of Congress'

Kumaraswamy publicly stated his disappointment over the JD(S) being unable to form the government on its own. On Sunday, ahead of his Delhi visit to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Union ministers, he said that he was at the "mercy" of Congress and not the 6.5 crore people of Karnataka as his government had not received the full mandate which his party had sought in the assembly elections.

File image of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. AP

File image of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. AP

"The people of the state rejected me and our party. I had sought an absolute majority. I have heard the statements of farm leaders too and how much they supported me," he said.

He spoke about how his was not an independent government. "I had requested the people to give me a mandate that prevents me from succumbing to any pressure other than you. But today I am at the mercy of the Congress. I am not under the pressure of the 6.5 crore people of the state," Kumaraswamy said.

The JD(S) leadership has also been saying they have to seek the consent of its coalition partner Congress before taking any decision.

'There will be issues in coalition'

The Congress and the JD(S) are at loggerheads over the allocation of key portfolios such as finance, home, public works department (PWD) and power, irrigation and urban development.

Speaking on the differences over certain portfolios with the JD(S), Congress leader KC Venugopal said, "In a coalition, there will be certain issues. We are discussing with each other. It will be sorted out immediately."

As agreed by the partners, the Congress, which won 78 seats, will have 22 cabinet ministers, including Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, while the JD(S), which has 36 members in the house, will have 12 ministers, including the chief minister.

The sources said that the Congress demanded finance as in the previous coalition government in the state in 2004-06 (JD(S)-Congress) as well as in 2006-08 (JD(S)-BJP), the portfolio had gone to those who held the deputy chief minister's post.

There is also discussion and demand that the party should induct new faces in the cabinet. On Saturday, the Congress president held the first round of discussion on portfolio allocation with senior party leaders of the state, but the meeting remained inconclusive.

Responding to questions on "cracks" in the Congress-JD(S) coalition, AICC spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said that when there is an internal democracy, partners have the right to raise issues and these cannot be termed as "cracks".

On Saturday, Kumaraswamy had admitted that the allocation of portfolios had caused "issues" but asserted that it will not have any adverse effect on the newly-formed government. "I will try not to take up an issue as a prestige issue and try to solve a problem. Otherwise, I will see," he had said.

However, on Sunday, he brushed aside talk of a tussle between the two coalition partners over the distribution of portfolios.

As the Congress and the JD(S) continued their discussions on the portfolio allocation on Monday, India Today reported that Congress is offering JD(S) only revenue and PWD from the key portfolios.

Cartoon by Manjul

Cartoon by Manjul

'JD(S)' alliance with Congress only in Vidhana Soudha'

While campaigning for the party candidate in Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly constituency on Sunday, former prime minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda said that though his party was in coalition with the Congress, it is "not for sale". "Alliance is only within Vidhana Soudha. It is my responsibility to ensure my party’s victory," Deve Gowda was quoted as saying by The New Indian Express in Jalahalli.

The Election Commission had deferred polling for the Rajarajeshwari Assembly seat to 28 May after nearly 10,000 voter ID cards were recovered from a flat in the constituency just days before the 12 May Assembly election.

After Congress and JD(S) joined hands to form the Karnataka government, the two parties tried to hold negotiations to avoid a contest in the constituency. Congress' DK Shivakumar and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy were to take a final call on this by Friday night. "The Congress party has made a big sacrifice in forming the coalition government, and the JD(S) should acknowledge that by supporting our candidate," Deccan Herald had quoted Shivakumar as saying. Clearly, a final decision was never taken as candidates from both the parties remained in fray during the bypoll on Monday.


Updated Date: May 28, 2018 21:12 PM

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