'Cabinet expansion after Oct 3 Council bypoll'

'Cabinet expansion after Oct 3 Council bypoll'

The much-awaited expansion of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet will not happen until after the Legislative Council bypolls scheduled on October 3, coalition coordination and monitoring committee chairperson Siddaramaiah said on Tuesday.

“It had been decided to take up Cabinet expansion in the third week of September, but the Council election was announced. So, the Cabinet expansion will happen after the election,” Siddaramaiah told reporters. “We will not discuss Cabinet expansion during our meeting with the Congress high command,” he added.

The bypolls are necessitated due to the resignation of G Parameshwara, K S Eshwarappa and V Somanna, who got elected to the Assembly. Voting is scheduled to be held on October 3, where MLAs are the voters. A candidate has to secure a minimum of 112 votes to emerge victorious.

The bypoll is seen as a litmus test for the Congress-JD(S) coalition. The Congress is worried that expanding the Cabinet before the MLC bypoll could lead to cross-voting by disgruntled legislators. Also, with the Jarkiholi brothers threatening to raise a banner of revolt against the party, ensuring that all the disgruntled MLAs vote in favour of the alliance candidates will be a big challenge.

Siddaramaiah, however, said postponing the Cabinet expansion had nothing to do with the byelection. “There’s no panic (of cross-voting),” he said. “Our MLAs are disciplined soldiers who will abide by the party’s decision.”

The former chief minister also hit out at the BJP for “shamelessly trying to lure Congress legislators.”