Cabinet aspirants keep Congress on tenterhooks

Cabinet aspirants keep Congress on tenterhooks

Dinesh Gundurao

Countdown for the expansion of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet has begun in the Congress camp, where ministerial aspirants are mounting pressure on the party to get a berth.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao said on Wednesday that the Cabinet is likely to be expanded on October 10. The party has six Cabinet berths that it can fill up from its quota of 22. The likely inductees may be finalised after the Congress Working Committee meeting scheduled for October 2, Rao added.

While the party is heaving a sigh of relief over the BJP pulling out of the Legislative Council bypolls - the Congress was afraid of cross-voting in the wake of disgruntlement in its ranks - legislators from Ballari are mounting pressure to get inducted. Currently, Ballari has no representation in the Cabinet, despite the party winning six of the nine seats in the district.

It is learnt that the Ballari MLAs - P T Parameshwar Naik (Hadagali), Bheema Naik (Hagaribommanahalli), Anand Singh (Vijayanagar), JN Ganesh (Kampli), B Nagendra (Bellary) and E Tukaram (Sandur) - are divided into groups, with one trying to outdo another in the race to get Cabinet berths. Even the Jarkiholi brothers, who recently were on a rebellious path, have demanded that Ballari MLAs be given Cabinet posts.

“I don’t want to say much (about the Ballari MLAs), but nothing is out of control,” Rao said. The party is also under pressure from leaders of the Lingayat community, those from North Karnataka and other seniors who are miffed that they did not make it to the Cabinet in the first round itself.

Meanwhile, the party has reissued gag order to legislators. “We have asked them not to make media statements because what they say may get misinterpreted. We’ve told them to keep things within the party where it can be resolved,” Rao said.

Rao downplayed legislators venting out their grouse against the party and its coalition with the JD(S) at the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meet on Tuesday. “That’s what the CLP is all about - a place for MLAs to discuss things openly. They’ve complained in the past as well, during CLP meetings when the Congress was in power,” he said.