Congress keeps ministerial aspirants guessing

Congress keeps ministerial aspirants guessing

Lobbying has intensified in the Congress as ministerial aspirants mounted pressure on AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal on Saturday ahead of the expansion of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet.

Venugopal, who was in the city to take stock of the party’s organisation, is said to have discussed expanding the Cabinet by the end of this month or before the start of Winter Session of the legislature, early next month.

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

Both Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao maintained that the Cabinet will be expanded before the end of this month. Party leaders say the atmosphere is right for the Cabinet expansion, given that the Congress has had a string of electoral victories in the recent past. Seniors M B Patil, H K Patil, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, Ramalinga Reddy and MTB Nagaraju among others are reportedly miffed with the party for overlooking them when the Cabinet was formed in June. Some of them had even threatened to raise the banner of revolt.

Former minister M B Patil held talks with Venugopal, after which he told reporters: “I will not say anything on the Cabinet expansion. Making me a minister is left to the party high command.”

Hirekerur legislator B C Patil also reached out to Venugopal. “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,” he said.

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