Cabinet berths for Baig, DKS may put CM in soup

Cabinet berths for Baig, DKS may put CM in soup

The Congress might be planning to consolidate its support among Vokkaliga and Muslim communities by inducting senior leaders D K Shivakumar and R Roshan Baig into the Cabinet ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But the move is most likely to open a Pandora’s box for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

The chief minister is likely to come under pressure from the long list of ministerial aspirants, including those facing corruption charges. There are more than a dozen aspirants for ministerial berths in the ruling Congress. Three more berths will still be vacant after the induction of Shivakumar and Baig into the ministry.

Those aspiring to become ministers include senior legislators Ramesh Kumar, Anil Lad, Basavaraj Rayareddy, Veeranna Mattikatti, A Manju, C S Nadagouda, K B Koliwad, Vinay Kulkarni, B B Chimmanakatti, Eshwara Khandre, Dr A B Maalaka Raddy and Motamma.

Now, they may all start mounting pressure on the party and the chief minister for a ministerial berth. Besides, KPCC chief G Parameshwara, who lost the election from the Koratagere Assembly constituency, has been trying hard to get a Cabinet berth.

Dissatisfaction

Among the aspirants, Koliwad and Rayareddy are learnt to have expressed their dissatisfaction over the move. Koliwad, an MLA from Ranebennur, has reportedly taken exception to the expansion and questioned the reason for dropping Santosh Lad from the ministry. Lad resigned as minister in November last following allegations of his involvement in illegal mining. Koliwad is also learnt to have said that the party would suffer a setback in the Lok Sabha polls for making Shivakumar and Baig ministers.

Shivakumar and Baig were reportedly kept out of the ministry citing charges of corruption against them. While Shivakumar is facing many charges of corruption, including that of illegal denotification of land, Baig has been facing the allegation of fraud and misuse of the government-allotted land. However, neither the party nor the chief minister has given any reason for not making them ministers.

Moreover, the party will have a tough time defending its decision to give ministerial berths to the tainted leaders. The party, and especially the chief minister, had been claiming that it had kept all “corrupt” leaders out of the government.

The chief minister was reluctant to make them part of his ministerial team not only because they were facing charges of corruption, but also to avoid senior leaders who wield a lot of clout in the Cabinet. Siddaramaiah’s intention was to keep the Cabinet under his control. That is the reason he has kept many of the key portfolios such as Finance, Energy, DPAR and Commerce and Industries with himself.

He, however, finally yielded to the pressure exerted by the two senior leaders. The pressure on chief minister was so intense that a section of leaders lodged a complaint with AICC Karnataka in-charge Digvijay Singh recently against Siddaramaiah for allegedly promoting tainted officials in the government. The chief minister did not want to expand the ministry till the Lok Sabha polls, the party sources said.

Anil Lad and Ramesh Kumar were vociferous in their demand for ministerial berths.

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