Cabinet expansion: Aspirants meet AICC leader

Cabinet expansion: Aspirants meet AICC leader

Ministerial aspirants are likely to make a beeline to meet AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal and lobby for their inclusion in the impending expansion of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet. DH file photo

Ministerial aspirants are likely to make a beeline to meet AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal and lobby for their inclusion in the impending expansion of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet.

Out of 34 Cabinet berths, the Congress has six vacant from its quota of 22, whereas the JD(S) can fill up two out of 12. The Congress, the majority stakeholder in the coalition with JD(S), has been putting off the Cabinet expansion, much to the disgruntlement of senior leaders that has, in the recent past, threatened to become rebellion.

Venugopal is in Bengaluru to take stock of the party’s organisation and will meet Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) office bearers and district party presidents. At least two ministerial aspirants met Venugopal on Saturday - former minister MB Patil and Hirekerur legislator BC Patil.

The party will have to factor in caste and regional representation while also having to deal with pressure from senior leaders who were left out of the council of ministers when it was formed in June this year.

The party leadership is also mindful of the fact that several districts are not represented in the existing Cabinet. Kolar, where the alliance partners won all six seats, is unrepresented. Similarly, no one from Ballari, where the Congress bagged six out of eight seats, is in the Cabinet. Koppal, Shivamogga, Davangere, Chikmagalur and Bengaluru Rural have no representation as well.

“I discussed the Cabinet expansion with Venugopal,” Hirekerur MLA Patil told reporters. “I’ve told him nobody from my taluk (Hirekerur) has been made minister in the past 38 years. He said he would keep that in mind. I also urged him to consider my district Haveri,” he said.

Disgruntlement among senior party leaders is another area of concern. Senior leaders MB Patil, HK Patil, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, Satish Jarkiholi, MTB Nagaraju among others are miffed. Senior legislators from Bengaluru constituencies, especially former ministers Ramalinga Reddy and R Roshan Baig, are also disoriented.

MB Patil, the former water resources minister who led the movement for a separate Lingayat religion, declined to comment after his meeting with Venugopal. “I will not say anything on the Cabinet expansion. Making me a Cabinet minister again is left to the party high command.”

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 - PT Parameshwar Naik (Hadagali), Bheema Naik (Hagaribommanahalli), Anand Singh (Vijaynagar), 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.

KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao maintained that the Cabinet will be expanded before the end of November.

Also, Congress is under immense pressure by party workers who are seeking to be made chairpersons or statutory boards and corporations. As per the agreement inked by the coalition partners, Congress will get two-thirds of the posts at boards and corporations while one-third will go to the JD(S).

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