Allocation of portfolios sets off rift in JD(S)

Allocation of portfolios sets off rift in JD(S)

Supporters of Minister G T Deve Gowda stage a protest in Mysuru on Saturday. DH PHOTO

After the Congress, voices of dissent have emerged in the JD(S), with two cabinet ministers — G T Deve Gowda and C S Puttaraju — expressing reservations over the portfolios allocated to them.

Speculation was rife that the ministers had resorted to blackmailing tactics by threatening to resign from their ministerial posts.  

The two senior leaders from the old Mysuru region, who were hoping for lucrative portfolios, were in for a disappointment on Friday night. While Gowda has been allotted the higher education portfolio, Puttaraju has been vested with minor irrigation.

Soon after the portfolios were allotted, supporters of Gowda and Puttaraju began to build pressure on the party, demanding that their leaders be accorded with “better” portfolios. Puttaraju's loyalists even tried to register their protest by blocking the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway on Saturday morning.

While Gowda stayed elusive all day, Puttaraju remained incommunicado for several hours. The sulking MLAs refused to budge even after Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy took a swipe at them for their “avarice”.

“Are there better portfolios than higher education and minor irrigation? What more can one ask for? How does it matter which portfolio is allotted if one is concerned about doing good work? All the ministers have ample opportunities to do good work in their departments. If they were so particular about a different portfolio, they should have communicated it to the party,” he said.

Fall in line, warns CM

Kumaraswamy also categorically said that the ministers had no other choice, but to fall in line. “First, they (MLAs) demand a Cabinet berth. Then, they insist on a particular portfolio. This is followed by demands for specific official chambers in the third floor of the Vidhana Soudha and government bungalows. The party’s decision is final,” he had said earlier in the day.

But after he learnt that the two leaders had decided to up the ante, Kumaraswamy decided to rush to Mysuru to hold a conciliatory meeting with them.

Gowda, who was keenly eyeing the revenue or water resources portfolios, was disappointed after the said portfolios went to the Congress. He later demanded that he be given either the PWD or energy portfolios. A day before the Cabinet expansion, he even communicated to party supremo H D Deve Gowda that he would be happy with the transport portfolio. The Chamundeshwari MLA, however, was livid after the party allocated the transport portfolio to Maddur MLA D C Thammanna.

Incidentally, Puttaraju, too, was eyeing the transport portfolio. Both Gowda and Puttaraju are angry with the prominence given to Thammanna, who, they feel, had little to contribute to the party’s sweeping victory in Mandya district. Thammanna is a close relative of the Gowda family.

It’s not just Gowda and Puttaraju, but other leaders in the party like Sa Ra Mahesh and H Vishwanath are also said to be upset with the party leadership. They feel that power sharing had entirely become a family affair, with Kumaraswamy, Revanna and Thammanna grabbing the important portfolios.

Sources also said that both Puttaraju and Thammanna are vying for the Mandya district in-charge post. In a bid to pacify Puttaraju, Kumaraswamy is learnt to have assured him that he will be made the district-in-charge minister for the time being.