Cabinet expansion sparks off dissidence in the Congress

Last Updated 14 January 2019, 08:50 IST

Hours after Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet was expanded/reshuffled, dissidence erupted in the Congress with aspirants airing their discontentment, and their supporters staging protests.

The first voice of dissent came from Jayanagar MLA Sowmya Reddy soon after the high command cleared names of MLAs for positions including Cabinet berths, parliamentary secretaries and chairpersons of boards and corporations late on Friday.

Sowmya, who took to Twitter, expressed resentment over the party overlooking her father — senior Congress leader and BTM Layout MLA Ramalinga Reddy — for a ministerial position.

She also registered her protest by declining the new responsibility accorded to her by the party. As expected, Sowmya’s name did not figure in the final list of Parliamentary Secretaries released by KPCC on Saturday.

Sowmya was among the seven legislators chosen for the position, which holds the rank of minister of state.

Sowmya said she was both pained and shocked by her father’s exclusion from the list and added that the party had meted grave injustice to him.

“I don’t want the post of the parliamentary secretary or any other such additional responsibility. As a first-time MLA, I require a lot of time for carrying out development work in Jayanagar. The post can be given to someone else, who is need of it. I’d rather see my father, a seven-time MLA, and a four-time minister, as a minister. His contribution to the growth of the Congress in Bengaluru is immense. Because of one MLA like him, there are more than 15 Congress MLAs in Bengaluru today,” she said.

Reddy, who had served as the Transport and Home Minister in the previous Siddaramaiah government, has been a ministerial aspirant ever since the coalition government was formed six months ago. Miffed at not being inducted during the first round of expansion, Reddy had largely stayed away from the party activities all these months. He also made himself scarce during the just-concluded winter session in Belagavi. While the MLA was not available for comment, his supporters protested outside the party office in Bengaluru.

They were demanding that he be made a minister. Joining the dissidence bandwagon were MLAs, including

B K Sangameshwara (Bhadravathi), N A Haris (Shanthinagar), T Raghumurthy (Challakere) and Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur). Reacting sharply, they said they did not want to accept their new responsibility as chairpersons of boards and corporations.

Suicide bid in Jewargi

In a dramatic incident, a follower of Jewargi MLA Ajay Singh allegedly attempted suicide by consuming poison as the former was not inducted into the Cabinet. Sharabhu Kalyani, a resident of Nelogi of Jewargi taluk was stopped by the police from taking the extreme step.
Singh, another ministerial aspirant, has been appointed as the party’s special representative in New Delhi.

His supporters were seen blocking the Jewargi-Vijayapura highway to mark their protest against the party’s decision.

As many as 16 Congress members from the Challakere TMC threatened to resign from their posts after Raghumurthy was denied a ministerial berth. He has been made the chairman of Hutti Gold Mines Ltd.

Hirekerur MLA B C Patil, who was among the frontrunners under the Lingayat quota, lost out to Bableshwar MLA

M B Patil. Hitting out at the party for not considering him, Patil said that he would decide his next move after consulting his supporters.

“I had complete faith in Siddaramaiah. He is my godfather. Had he put in a little more effort, then I would have surely been inducted,” he said.

Other disgruntled MLAs like Pratap Gouda Patil (Maski) and Shamanur Shivashankarappa (Davangere South) too attacked the party for ignoring their demand.

(Published 21 December 2018, 19:38 IST)

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