Cabinet expansion a juggling act for Congress

KPCC Chief Dinesh Gundu Rao. DH file photo.

The expansion of the Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Cabinet, likely to be held later this month, seems to be a tightrope walk for the faction-ridden Congress.

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.

Out of the 34 Cabinet berths, the Congress has six vacant from its quota of 22 whereas the JD(S) has filled up 11 out of 12. “We want to set right the regional imbalance by inducting leaders from North Karnataka. We have already assured them,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao told DH.

“Seniority and caste factors will have to be considered as well, ” he added.

Of the 25 ministers at present, nine are Vokkaligas, four Lingayats and three each from Dalit and minority communities. The Congress has three Vokkaliga and two Lingayat ministers. Lingayat leaders have been mounting pressure on the party to increase their presence in the Cabinet in a bid to placate the community after the Lingayat religion controversy.

The party leadership is also mindful of the fact that several districts are not represented in the Cabinet. Kolar, where the alliance partners won all the 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, Chikkamagaluru and Bengaluru Rural have no representation as well.

Disgruntlement among senior party leaders is another area of concern. Senior leaders M B Patil, H K Patil, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, Satish Jarkiholi, MTB Nagaraju and others are miffed.

Senior legislators from Bengaluru constituencies, especially former ministers Ramalinga Reddy and R Roshan Baig, are also disoriented. “My stand has remained unchanged. I won’t go knocking on anybody’s door to become a minister. I don’t know what criteria will be used to fill up the vacant posts and frankly, it doesn’t bother me,” Reddy said.

Given that there are too many ministerial aspirants, legislators, who do not make it to the Cabinet, will be appointed as chairpersons of statutory boards and corporations.

Kumaraswamy is likely to expand the Cabinet after Congress leader Siddaramaiah returns from his Europe tour. The Congress leader is leaving for a 10-day tour from September 3.

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Cabinet expansion a juggling act for Congress

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