Another round of negotiations between the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress leaders over a power-sharing formula will resume today with CM-elect HD Kumaraswamy and AICC general secretary in Karnataka KC Venugopal likely to sit together to take a call on the contentious issue of the Deputy CM’s post. On Monday, Kumaraswamy met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in the national capital to discuss the ministerial berth sharing between the two parties ahead of Wednesday’s swearing-in.
The details of the meeting were not divulged but media reported that the Congress demanded two posts for Deputy CMs — one for a Dalit and the other for a Lingayat, 12 for ministers and one for the Speaker. News agency IANS said that Kumaraswamy, 58, who will alone take oath on Wednesday, said the matter will be finalised when leaders of both parties sit together on Tuesday in Bengaluru. The Congress has authorised its state unit general secretary KC Venugopal to take up the matter with the local party leaders including former CM Siddaramaiah and the JD(S) leadership.
The Indian Express reported that the leaders of both the parties on Monday agreed to bury their differences over the power-sharing issue in the state to provide a stable government. Leaders said that they have to ‘forget the past and look at the future and forge a long-term relationship’. According to JD(S) spokesperson and general secretary Danish Ali, Kumaraswamy and Congress leaders discussed ‘long-term relationship on mutual trust’. He said that they also decided to contest the elections together in 2019 to make the BJP bite the dust. To a question on Congress’ demand of two Deputy CMs, he said, “Who will be their Deputy CM it is up to them (Congress).”
Karnataka government formation: Top developments
1. Speaking to reporters after meeting Rahul and Sonia on Monday night, Kumaraswamy said that the issue over ministerial berths and seat-sharing will be put to rest on Monday when he will sit with Venugopal in the state capital. “He (Rahul Gandhi) has given permission to Venugopal to discuss all those matters and finalise everything. He will sit together to finalise things,” he said, adding that he has invited both the Congress Rahul and Sonia to Bengaluru on Wednesday to attend the oath-taking ceremony.
2. The IE report, citing JD(S) sources said that the Congress is likely to get the post of the Speaker since it was the larger of the two parties. On the Congress’ demand of two Deputy CMs, it said that the JD(S) was open to discuss the matter. Sources dropped hints that the party may agree to the Congress’ demand since there was “no hard and fast rule” that there can’t be two persons on the post.
3. The IE report said that sources said they did not get into specifics of cabinet formation. Both the Congress leaders said that the ‘coalition should run smoothly, with coordination’. To this, Kumaraswamy assured them that he will provide a good governance without posing any problem to the Congress. Sonia Gandhi told Kumaraswamy to discuss politics with her son Rahul. The UPA chairperson added that she could only give him her blessings.
4. Before meeting Sonia and Rahul, Kumaraswamy had met BSP supremo Mayawati. It is reported that the lone BSP MLA in Karnataka N Mahesh will join the Kumaraswamy Cabinet. The two leaders also discussed the role of regional parties in the run-up to the next year’s general elections.
5. Meanwhile, BJP national president Amit Shah launched a scathing attack on the Congress and JD(S) as he described the alliance as ‘unholy’. Defending his party’s decision to form the government, Shah said that the BJP was invited to form the government. “There was nothing unethical,” Shah said. He said that the mandate was in favour of the BJP and that the Congress and JD(S) joined the ranks against the people’s mandate. “This is what I call an unholy alliance.”
6. On Saturday, JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy had staked the claim to form the government in Karnataka with support from the Congress. This came immediately after BJP strongman BS Yeddyurappa resigned from the CM post. The BJP is currently the single largest party in the 224-member House with 104 MLAs. The Congress has 78 MLAs whereas the JD(S)+ has 38 MLAs. The Congress and JD(S) announced a post-poll alliance to keep the BJP out of power in the southern state.