CM leaves out tainted men
28 ministers sworn in; portfolios likely today
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday inducted a 28-member council of ministers, excluding tainted aspirants.
Portfolios are likely to be allocated on Sunday. The chief minister apparently had a difficult time on Saturday, with senior ministers demanding plum portfolios like revenue, public works and water resources.
Besides, differences cropped up between Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G Parameshwara over the allocation of portfolios, since both were keen on fulfilling their wish lists. Many in the party apparently refused to buy Siddaramaiah’s argument that the portfolios were decided by the party high command, since key posts were reserved for the chief minister’s close aides.
Siddaramaiah, who took five days to form his team after assuming office, has left five seats vacant, probably to buy peace with potential troublemakers, if need be. He kept D K Shivakumar and mining baron Anil Lad off the Cabinet as they are facing corruption charges.
Though Parameshwara was adamant on deputy chief minister’s post, he attended the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan. Soon after the ceremony, Siddaramaiah held an informal Cabinet meeting where he advised his colleagues to remain clean and work within the framework of the law. It was also decided to convene the fifth session of the 14th Legislative Assembly on May 29.
The Cabinet does not feature any MLC. But the chief minister will have to make provision for at least one MLC who will function as the Leader of the House in the Legislative Council. Most of the MLCs, including Motamma, skipped the swearing-in ceremony, while MLCs Veeranna Mattikatti and S R Patil attended. Denial of berths to Shivakumar and A Manju led to protests by their supporters. Followers of senior Congress member Maalakaraddy ransacked a Congress office in Yadgir.
The two-tier team has 20 Cabinet rank ministers and eight ministers of state. Senior Congress leaders who made it to the ministry are H K Patil, R V Deshpande, T B Jayachandra, Ramalinga Reddy, Ramanath Rai, V Srinivas Prasad and K J George. While seniors were given Cabinet berths, most ministers of state are first-time members.
The 28-member council features 15 first-time ministers.
The senior-most Cabinet member is Shamanoor Shivashankarappa (81), while the youngest is Santosh Lad (37). The only woman minister is actor Umashree. Actor Ambareesh has also got a ministerial berth. Several ministers are aged between 50 and 60.
Though he claimed that no lobbies will be entertained, Siddaramaiah has accommodated mining baron Santosh Lad, cousin of Anil Lad, in the ministry. Baburao Chinchansur, who was raided by the Lokayukta in January this year, also got a Cabinet berth. While Shamanoor runs educational institutions and sugar factories in Davangere, M B Patil heads the Bijapur Liberal District Educational Association, which has several educational institutions in Bijapur and Bagalkot districts under its fold.
Siddaramaiah’s critics within the Congress termed the ministry “JD b team” since several ministers had defected to the Congress from other parties, especially the Janata Dal.
Siddaramaiah has given five berths each to Lingayatas and Vokkaligas.
There are five ministers from Scheduled Castes, three from the other backward classes, two each from Brahmins and Muslims and one each from Christian, Jain, Bunt and Raddi Lingayat communities. Siddaramaiah, a Kuruba, however, did not induct any MLA from his community into the Cabinet
In a bid to erode the influence of the BJP in the coastal districts, the chief minister has inducted four MLAs from Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts into the Cabinet. Similarly, he has given due importance to Bangalore urban district by giving four MLAs ministerial berths.
Another district which got ample representation was Mysore. The chief minister’s loyalists, V Srinivas Prasad and H C Mahadevappa, were made Cabinet ministers.
Belgaum, with 18 Assembly constituencies, has got just two ministers. The 10 districts which went unrepresented were Bangalore Rural, Bidar, Chikkaballapur, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Haveri, Kodagu, Kolar, Raichur and Ramanagar.