A fortnight after becoming chief minister, HD Kumaraswamy finally expanded his two-member cabinet on Wednesday after 25 ministers took the oath of office. The much-awaited exercise, that caused heartburn among several lawmakers in the JDS-Congress coalition, came after intense bargaining for ministerial berths and hours of marathon meeting between the parties' leadership.
While the JD(S) kept 10 ministerial berths for itself, Congress had 12 of legislators inducted into the cabinet. Lone BSP MLA N Mahesh and the two Independent MLAs—Venkataramanappa and R Shankar—also got ministerial berths in the first phase of cabinet expansion.
HD Revanna, brother of Chief Minister Kumaraswamy was the first person to take oath. According to The Hindu, Revanna, who was firm on getting both Energy and Public Works Department (PWD) settled for just PWD. The issue was sorted out after a three-hour meeting with Deve Gowda, the newspaper reported. Apart from him, JD(S)' Bandappa Kashampur, GT Devegowda, DC Thamanna, SR Srinivas, CS Puttaraju, SR Mahesh, also took the oath of office.
From the Congress camp, senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge's son Priyank Kharge and DK Shivakumar were key names. BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan, who quit the JD(S) to join the Congress, was also given a cabinet seat.
The new ministers took oath after days of hectic bargaining between the ruling coalition partners, the JD(S) and the Congress. Actor-turned-politician Jaimala Ramachandra from the Congress was also sworn-in and is now the lone woman minister in the Kumaraswamy cabinet.
The cabinet expansion comes amid fresh outbreak of infighting in Congress, the larger partner in the alliance. As 12 Congress MLAs took oath as ministers, around 200 supporters of Congress MLA HK Patil protested at Chalukya circle in Bengaluru, and demanded he be given a ministerial berth. Besides, supporters of another Congress MLA Satish Jarkiholi also staged a protest near Vidhana Soudha demanding a ministerial seat for him in the state cabinet, Zee news reported
#BREAKING - Around 200 supporters of Congress MLA HK Patil protest at Chalukya circle in Bengaluru, demanding ministerial berth for him. Burn tyre, shout slogans in the middle of a busy junction. pic.twitter.com/GqWrm2NsxY
— News18 (@CNNnews18) June 6, 2018
Reacting to reports about heartburn in the Congress camp, Kumaraswamy said that it was only natural for any coalition government to face teething problems in the initial stages of ministry formation. He, however, assured the people that he would give a stable government for the full five-year term.
"It is natural for any coalition government to face teething problems at initial stages of ministry formation. There was a short delay in expanding the cabinet, but both Congress and JDS parties are united and will provide stable government, which would last its full five year term," he said.
Speaking to reporters after the oath-taking ceremony of new ministers along with Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, Kumaraswamy recollected the 2008 rule of the BJP where its government faced disgruntlement among its legislators over ministry formation.
"We are all aware of what happened in Haveri, Anekal andHubbali-Dharwada, during BJP rule in 2008. The supporters of some aspirants had taken to streets after they were not inducted. So, media should not blow out of proportion such protests," he said.
He also brushed aside reports of confusion between coalition partners over portfolio sharing.
Asked how would Congress pacify its senior legislatorsincluding Roshan Baig and Ramalinga Reddy who have not beeninducted in the ministry, Parameshwara said the party would talk to them and know their desires and aspirations. "They are senior leaders and eligible for any post in the party or in the government.We are going to talk to each one of them and know what their desires and aspirations are," he said.
Earlier, Kumaraswamy said in Bengaluru that at least nine MLAs from the JD(S) would be inducted into the ministry in the first phase. The Congress finalised its names in the national capital at a meeting with party chief Rahul Gandhi, senior Karnataka leaders like former chief minister Siddaramaiah, deputy chief minister Parameshwara and party leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao and DK Shivakumar, besides AICC general secretary in-charge KC Venugopal.
Though there was no official word from the Congress, it was understood that Rahul was facing a conundrum in rewarding the Karnataka crisis manager, DK Shivakumar, who was earlier sidelined during the selection of a deputy chief minister. Even though Shivakumar, who kept the flock together while BJP was trying hard to lure away its MLA, said nothing in public, his supporters were vocal in voicing their discontent.
Rahul 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 Congress was promised 22 ministerial berths while JD(S) has been allocated 12 ministerial berths as per the understanding in the alliance. However, some portfolios have been kept vacant on both sides to douse any discord in the two parties.
Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at 2:12 pm at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan. BSP supremo Mayawati 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.
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 JD(S) portfolios include Finance, Excise, Information, Intelligence, Public Works Department, Power, Cooperation, Tourism, Education and Transport.
Ever since Kumaraswamy proved his majority on the floor of the Assembly on 25 May, both parties were driving a hard bargain until Friday 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, 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.
JDS and Congress had stitched up a post-poll alliance at the state level after the 12 May assembly polls yielded a fractured mandate, with BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 members but falling short of the required numbers. Only Kumaraswamy, along with his deputy Parameshwara, were sworn-in on 23 May.
Updated Date: Jun 06, 2018 22:56 PM