Karnataka cabinet revamp sparks political battle in state Congress

Supporters of Karnataka ministers V Srinivas Prasad and Ambareesh took to the streets in protest on Saturday after reports that they could be dropped from the state cabinet after the revamp.

Supporters of Srinivas Prasad protested at Hullalli Circle in his constituency of Nanjangud and blocked national highway 212 leading to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Ambareesh loyalists blocked the Mysuru -Bengaluru road near Mandya, holding up traffic, reported Deccan Chronicle.

Trouble has reportedly started brewing within the Karnataka Congress, with some members have expressed their reservation over the chief minister’s plan to reshuffle the Cabinet and more importantly, on the new list prepared by him.

Fourteen lawmakers of the ruling Congress are likely to be inducted in the Karnataka council of ministers in the revamping scheduled for Sunday afternoon, a party official said.

"The list of new ministers is being finalised by the chief minister (Siddaramaiah) in consultation with the party's state unit president and senior colleagues. It will be sent to the Governor by Sunday afternoon for the swearing-in ceremony at 4 p.m in Raj Bhavan," the official said.

 Karnataka cabinet revamp sparks political battle in state Congress

File image of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. PTI

Among the probables who might take oath as new ministers are legislative assembly Speaker K Thimmappa, former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, Eshwar Kandre, Santosh Lad, Tanveer Sait, SS Mallikarjun, Basava Raya Reddy, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Priyank Kharge, Pramod Madhwaraj and MR Seetharam.

Karnataka has a 34-member ministry, including the chief minister.

Among the 14 to be dropped include Srinivas Prasad, Kimmane Ratnakar, Baburao Chinchansur, Qamarul Islam, MH Ambarish, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Sathish Jarkiholi, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, PT Parameshwar Naik, Vinay Kumar Sorake and SR Patil.

"The chief minister got the approval of the party's high command for both the lists of new ministers and those to be dropped on Saturday in New Delhi after a detailed discussion with the party president (Sonia Gandhi) and the vice-president (Rahul Gandhi) on Friday," the official said.

Congress general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in the state Digvijay Singh and G Parameshwara were present when the list of probables was finalised.

The major reshuffle of the three-year ministry comes a week after the Congress won three of the four Rajya Sabha seats and four of the seven seats in the state legislative council's biennial elections.

"The revamp will ensure proportionate representation to all the people across the state, spanning castes and regions," the source asserted.

Interestingly, Mallikarjun will replace his father Shivashankarappa from Davangere, while Ramesh will replace his brother Sathish from Belagavi district in the council of ministers.

Siddaramaiah and Parameshwara are hoping the revamp will restore the party's image, tainted by drought crisis, farmers' suicides and a spate of controversies.

"Siddaramaiah wants to inject new and young blood in the cabinet and move some of the ministers for party work in the run-up to the next assembly election, due in early 2018," the party official added.

Karnataka is the only major state where the Congress is in power now after the grand old party lost in Assam and Kerala in the recent assembly elections. However, with the protests taking place over the proposed cabinet reshuffle, the Congress-led government appears to be headed for choppy waters.

The controversy only adds to the trouble that the Congress has been facing in the states where it holds the reins of power. In Uttarakhand, a group of nine rebel MLAs joined hands with the BJP to oust the ruling Congress government.

Arunachal Pradesh, another Congress ruled state, too was rocked by a political crisis in December 2015 as 21 rebel Congress MLAs joined hands with 11 of BJP and two independents to 'impeach' Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia, even as Rebia claimed that the impeachment was illegal and unconstitutional.

Subsequently, President's rule was imposed in both of these states.

It remains to be seen if Karnataka will see a similar political crisis, or resolve the matter amicably.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 19, 2016 14:36:28 IST