This comes a day after Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy expanded his cabinet by inducting R Shankar and H Nagesh into the ministry, in an apparent move to give stability to his 13-month old wobbly JD(S)-Congress coalition government.
Amid simmering discontent within the Congress in Karnataka over the induction of two Independent MLAs into the coalition government’s ministry, the party’s state unit chief Saturday said a “reshuffle will definitely happen”, and several senior leaders will be “taken into confidence”. This comes a day after Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy expanded his cabinet by inducting R Shankar and H Nagesh into the ministry, in an apparent move to give stability to his 13-month old wobbly JD(S)-Congress coalition government.
The two Independent legislators were inducted into the minister overlooking the claims of several senior leaders, particularly in the Congress, who are sulking ever since they failed to make it to the ministry earlier. Other than Siddaramaiah and top ministers, most of the Congress leaders and senior legislators such as H K Patil, B C Patil and Sudhakar who are ministerial aspirants, had skipped Friday’s swearing-in ceremony, giving credence to reports of a growing discontent.
Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters here, “Reshuffle will happen definitely… Most probably in about six to eight months the process of reshuffle will begin and many who have not got the opportunity, including several seniors, they will be taken into confidence.” “Evaluation of ministers’ performance and representation will be looked into and decided (during the reshuffle),” he said.
Terming the induction of Independent MLAs into the state cabinet as “most unfortunate,” B C Patil, the Congress MLA from Hirekeru, said that he is discussing future move with other legislators and friends. Hitting out at the Congress state leadership, he said, “It looks like saving the government is more important than saving the party. If the party survives there will be government.”
Pointing out that the Congress won only one seat in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, Patil said rather than legislators who worked for it, Independents who won against the party were being given berths. “I’m unable to understand the logic behind it,” he said, claiming that Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara had given assurance that he would be made minister after the general elections.
Noting that Patil might have spoken out of “disappointment”, state Agriculture Minister N H Shivashankar Reddy too said a cabinet reshuffle was on the cards. “It has already been decided that after some time, sitting ministers should make way for new faces, during which he (Patil) may be accommodated,” he said.
The cabinet expansion on Friday was seen as a move to ensuring that the two Independent lawmakers don’t jump the ship once again and move to the BJP, affecting the stability of the government. Shankar was inducted from the Congress’ share and Nagesh from the JD(S) quota in the ministry. Under the coalition arrangement, out of the total 34 ministerial positions, Congress and JD(S) have 22 and 12 berths respectively.
Prior to the expansion, three posts were vacant– two from JD(S) and one from Congress. There is still one post vacant in the JD(S) share. Faced with a rout in the Lok Sabha polls and growing disgruntlement within, the coalition leaders, after a series of negotiations, had decided fill vacant posts in the cabinet. An increasing number of cabinet berth aspirants in the Congress is worrying the coalition leaders, as this may once again lead to disgruntlement and cause disturbance in the smooth functioning of the government.
Meanwhile, dismissing reports about his resignation as state Congress chief, Rao said, he has not written any letter to the party high command as being reported, and his continuation as the party’s state unit chief is left for the Congress leadership to decide. Rao was conspicuous by his absence at the cabinet expansion on Friday.