Formation of JD(S)-Congress coalition ministry is turning tricky as both sides have come up with a list of strong demands. With both sides playing hard, the Congress high command on Monday asked Chief Minister-designate H D Kumaraswamy to hold talks with a team of leaders led by AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal, who are dealing with Karnataka poll affairs.
Within Congress, there is a demand for the younger lot to be finally given their due while keeping the caste and region arithmetic in fine balance. In JD(S), the old Mysuru region will have the lion’s share of representation. MLCs of both groups are also eyeing ministerial berths.
“Nimmappraane, CM aagalla (I swear on your father, you will never become the chief minister).” That was former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s challenge to HD Kumaraswamy in April. Unfortunately, nothing went right for Siddaramaiah since then. Now, forced by his high command to play second fiddle to the JD(S), Siddaramaiah has no role to play in the new JD(S)-Congress coalition government, to be sworn in on 23 May. Going forward, it is unlikely that he will be given much of a role to play even within his own party.
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.
All indications are that JD (S) supremo H D Deve Gowda will have the final say in ministry formation. The family has decided that Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha will contest from Ramanagara seat which her husband has vacated.
There had was speculation that the couple’s actor son Nikhil might make his political debut from this seat. That possibility has been postponed for the time being. The two parties continued the strict watch on their MLAs and had them sequestered in hotels and resorts.
The JD(S) camp has been the most peripatetic. From a star hotel in the town centre, they moved to the one where Congress MLAs were staying (near the airport) on Sunday night and were shifted to another resort on Monday. While their leaders insisted that they did not fear any defections, they were not willing to take a chance.
Rahul and top leaders coming
The swearing-in ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy as CM is set to provide the stage for the coming together of a galaxy of leaders from non-BJP camp. The event is being seen as a much-needed trigger to bring these political outfits together ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Galaxy of opposition leaders to be present
A galaxy of opposition leaders are likely to attend the swearing-in of H D Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru on Wednesday. While Rahul Gandhi has confirmed, Mayawati, Chandrababu Naidu, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, Arvind Kejriwal and Pinarayi Vijayan are expected to be present.
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