Cabinet expansion may be deferred by a month

The leaders are under immense pressure from those who have missed the Cabinet berth in the first round of expansion. (DH file photo)

Top Congress leaders in the state including Siddaramaiah, G Parameshwara and Dinesh Gundu Rao have sought an appointment with party chief Rahul Gandhi next week to discuss Cabinet expansion.

The leaders are under immense pressure from those who have missed the Cabinet berth in the first round of expansion - especially from seniors such as H K Patil, Roshan Baig, M B Patil - to fill the vacant posts as soon as possible.

As per the seat-sharing arrangement with coalition partner - the JD(S), the Congress gets 22 ministerial berths of which 16 have already been filled up. In a bid to quell dissidence in the party, high command had said that the vacancies would be filled soon after the budget session. The budget session concluded on Friday.However, the state leaders are now citing “Ashadha month” (considered inauspicious) to put off expansion by a month. Ashadha month begins on Saturday and ends on August 11.

The main fear among top state leaders is that the second round of expansion may trigger a bigger bout of dissidence in the party. The leaders are likely to convey this when they meet Rahul. The appointment is likely to materialise between July 20 and 23. The leaders are likely to impress upon the high command that Chief Minister
H D Kumaraswamy is not keen on expansion during Ashadha.

The chief minister has convened a meeting of Karnataka MPs in New Delhi on July 19. The monsoon session of Parliament will commence the previous day. Kumaraswamy, during his stay in the national capital, is likely meet Rahul.

Sources in the Congress said there had been a change of stand on the part of Rahul. He too is keen that the state unit strengthen the organisation first before taking up the second round of Cabinet expansion. He conveyed the same to newly appointed KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao and working president Eshwar Khandre when they called on him earlier this week.

Rao and Khandre have lined up a series of meetings including that of office-bearers and district presidents next week. The sources said the state executive committee is also likely to meet sometime next week.

In all probability, appointment of chairpersons and members to various boards and corporations will be taken up first before the Cabinet expansion.

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