Karnataka 2018

Deadlock over Karnataka Cabinet continues

H.D. Kumaraswamy paying floral tributes to Jawaharlal Nehru in Bengaluru on Sunday.  

Four days after JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy took the oath as Chief Minister of Karnataka, there is no clarity yet on how long it will take to expand his two-member Cabinet.

State Congress leaders held meetings with the party high command in New Delhi on Saturday and Sunday, but the discussions on Cabinet expansion remained inconclusive, sources said.

With Congress president Rahul Gandhi leaving for the U.S. on Sunday night with his mother Sonia Gandhi, the process of Cabinet formation is likely to be delayed by four to five days. “Will be out of India for a few days, accompanying Sonia-ji to her annual medical check-up,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

Waiting for Rahul

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Sunday, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, who was part of the discussions, said the Cabinet would be expanded and portfolios allocated between the coalition partners only after Mr. Gandhi’s return.

“We could not discuss allocation of portfolios with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Once he returns, we will discuss with him again. It will not take a week... Maybe, three-four days will be required,” he said.

Fight for Finance

The Cabinet expansion has also been delayed over differences in the distribution of portfolios between the coalition partners, with a tussle for key Ministries including Finance, Public Works, Water Resources and Energy.

The Finance portfolio has assumed significance for both parties, given the crop loan waiver issue. The JD(S) had promised in its poll manifesto to waive crop loans within 24 hours of coming to power.

Chief Minister Kumaraswamy on Sunday admitted that “there are some issues on portfolio allocation, particularly the Finance portfolio...” “However, all issues would be sorted out amicably,” he said. He also clarified that he had not heard from Mr. Gandhi on the talks for allocation of portfolios. He had spoken to Mr. Rahul and Ms. Sonia on the phone, he added.

Meanwhile, the Congress has chalked out criteria for choosing Ministers. Caste calculations and representation of different regions are expected to play a decisive role.

Mr Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief minister G. Parameshwara, former minister D.K. Shivakumar, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and K.C. Venugopal, general secretary in charge of Karnataka, held talks with the central leaders. However, given the number of aspirants, the high command has not been able finalise either the portfolios for the party or a list of MLAs for ministerial berths.

The Congress quota in the 34 member Ministry has been fixed at 22.

In a related development, Mathe Mahadevi, head of the Basava Dhama Peeta, Koodalasangama, on Sunday demanded that the Congress appoint Lingayat leader M.B. Patil as Deputy Chief Minister in the coalition government. The former Water Resources Minister has been in the forefront of the campaign seeking a minority religious tag for the Lingayat/Veerashaiva community.

Citing his age, the math leader has strongly opposed moves to allocate the post to Akhil Bharat Veerashaiva Mahasabha President and former minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa, 86.


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 9:24:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/karnataka-2018/deadlock-over-karnataka-cabinet-continues/article24008332.ece

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