OTHERS

Ministry expansion: JD(S) to prepare list

BANGALORE, DEC. 6. The meeting of the Janata Dal (Secular) Legislature Party held here tonight is said to have authorised some senior leaders to prepare a list of 11 legislators to be accommodated in the Ministry expansion.

The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, is expected to call on the former Prime Minister and president of the Janata Dal (S), H.D. Deve Gowda, here on Tuesday and finalise the Ministry expansion.

Sources in the Janata Dal (S) told The Hindu that the resolution adopted at the meeting would empower Mr. Deve Gowda to select the legislators he deemed fit to be a part of the Government. Other senior leaders to be included in the exercise were the Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah; the Industries Minister, P.G.R. Sindhia; the Revenue Minister, M.P. Prakash; the president of the party's State unit, N. Thippanna; and its working president, H.D. Kumaraswamy.

The senior leaders commenced the discussion on finalising the list around midnight and said the list would be given to the Chief Minister whenever he confirmed the date for the swearing in of the new Ministers.

Assurance

The Janata Dal (S) legislators also gave the assurance that they would abide by the decision taken by the senior leaders. Interestingly, most of the 58 legislators of the Janata Dal (S) more or less know whether their name will figure in the list or not.

Mr. Deve Gowda stressed the point that the Congress should stick to the agreement that it had entered into with his party prior to the formation of the coalition Government.

"It is an agreement arrived at in the presence of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and a few other Congress and Janata Dal (S) leaders. The sharing of portfolios in particular should be as per the Maharashtra pattern," he said.

Mr. Deve Gowda is said to have told the legislators that their aim should not be becoming ministers but strengthening their base in their respective constituency to ensure a comfortable victory in the next Assembly election.

He drove home the point that there was no guarantee that this Government would last its full term.

Meeting

Mr. Deve Gowda said he was not sure when the meeting between him and Mr. Dharam Singh pertaining to the Ministry expansion would take place. The Chief Minister was yet to get in touch with him and finalise the expansion, including its date and time, he added.

"I have only read in newspapers that the Chief Minister is waiting to meet me before finalising the Ministry expansion," he said.

The Deputy Chief Minister said the Janata Dal (S) was not interested in setting a deadline for the Ministry expansion.

"We have been ready for the expansion for several months. We hope the Congress will live up to its promise on the sharing of portfolios and the chairmanship of boards and corporations," he added.

Interestingly, despite the Chief Minister's return from New Delhi on Thursday after obtaining the Congress High Command's approval for the expansion, he has not meet Mr. Deve Gowda as both of them have been out of Bangalore. This apparently has led to some sort of a communication gap. It was mentioned that the Janata Dal (S) would give vent to its views if the Ministry expansion did not take place on or before December 9.

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