Lobbying on for Cabinet berths

Parameshwara, Shivakumar eye Deputy Chief Minister's post

Lobbying on for Cabinet berths

With Siddaramaiah being sworn in as chief minister on Monday, lobbying for Cabinet berths and creation of deputy chief minister post has intensified in the Congress. The aspirants are many, but the maximum number of Cabinet slots is 34 (including the chief minister), thanks to a constitutional amendment  in 2003.

Two senior leaders - KPCC President G Parameshwara and D K Shivakumar - are said to lobbying hard for the post of deputy chief minister. Parameshwara is said to have made it clear to the party leadership that he would not accept any ministerial responsibility unless he is made deputy chief minister. Parameshwara was an aspirant for the chief minister’s post, but lost badly in his home constituency of Koratagere in the Assembly polls.

Parameshwara is in the good books of the Congress central leadership, which has acknowledged his contribution in bringing the party back to power. It is also learnt that he was eyeing energy portfolio.

Sources said Parameshwara, who would be leaving for Delhi to hold talks with the high command, is said to have made it clear that he should be appointed as deputy chief minister (DyCM) or else he would like to continue as the KPCC president. The party, though, has no plans to create the post of the DyCM and would be forced to rethink in case Parameshwara sticks to his stand. Denial of the chief minister post to Mallikarjun Kharge, a dalit, has already created a lot of heartburns among dalits supporting the Congress. So, the party may consider the request of Parameshwara, it is said.

At the same time, another senior leader D K Shivakumar is understood to be lobbying hard to get the post of deputy chief minister claiming that the dominant “Vokkaliga community” was behind him. Besides, the support of the community is essential for the party during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. However, he doesn’t enjoy much support from his party colleagues.

Three union ministers from the State- Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily and Rahman Khan- rushed back to New Delhi on Monday hours after attending the swearing-in ceremony of Siddaramaiah.

Several aspirants including senior Congress leaders T B Jayachandra, K B Koliwad and Roshan Baig also left for the national capital where the first list of ministers would be finalised in the next couple of days.

Siddaramaiah, along with KPCC president G Parameshwara is likely to meet AICC president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday evening and hold preliminary discussions on Cabinet formation.

Sources in the party said some senior leaders have started lobbying for their candidates. Kharge is said to be keen that Sedam MLA Sharanprakash Patil from his home district of Gulbarga gets a Cabinet berth. Moily is said to be backing Abhay Chandra Jain (Moodabidri) and Ramanath Rai (Bantwal), while AICC general secretary B K Hariprasad is lobbying for Dinesh Gundu Rao (Gandhinagar) and Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout).

Then there are some political heavyweights who are sure to get into cabinet due to their experience - R V Deshpande, H K Patil, Kagodu Thimmappa, H C Mahadevappa, H S Mahadevaprasad and V Srinivas Prasad. Caste and regional representation would also have to be taken care of,  before finalising the list.

Siddaramaiah is bound to bat for those who migrated from the JD(S) to the Congress, along with him. In addition, he had given tickets to some of his associates.

In his maiden press conference in Bangalore after taking oath as chief minister, Siddaramaiah admitted that Cabinet formation was a difficult exercise. But assured that it would be a “balanced Cabinet.”

He said he will go to Delhi in two to three days and hold discussions with the party high command on Cabinet formation.

“I will see whether it should be in one go or in two instalments. By Thursday or Friday, the ministry will be formed,” he stated.

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