Taking its cue from the Karnataka voter who ousted the BJP government over corruption, the Congress high command is understood to have told its chief minister, Siddaramaiah, to keep tainted MLAs at bay.
The buzz in party circles is that the emphasis is also on keeping the core group ‘young’ (read below 70) and first-time MLAs out of the cabinet.
The party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi are particularly keen on a populist and clean government in the face of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, according to sources.
If implemented, the move is sure to ruffle some feathers.
Party sources said Karnataka heavyweights, including DK Shivakumar, R Roshan Baig and the Lad cousins (Anil Lad and Santosh Lad) are a worried lot.
And they have a reason to be worried. Shivakumar was indicted by the Lokayukta over illegal denotification of land and in cases of illegal granite mining.
Baig, who was in former CM SM Krishna’s cabinet, had to resign when his name cropped up in the multi-crore fake stamp paper case. Mining barons of Bellary, the Lads might invite the wrath of opposition leaders in the new assembly.
First-timers Priyank Kharge (Mallikarjuna Kharge’s son) and Ajay Kumar Singh (N Dharam Singh’s son), who were hoping to ride piggyback into the council of ministers, may be in for disappointment, too.
At 81, Shamanur Shivashankarappa is too old to be considered. Party’s state president G Parameshwara, meanwhile, has prepared a list of names to be included in the Siddaramaiah cabinet.
Parameshwara, who is already in Delhi, sources say, is working on ensuring proper representation to various regions and castes while taking into consideration seniority, too.
Siddaramaiah is set to join him on Wednesday to finalise the names in consultation with Sonia, Rahul and the Prime Minister. Sources said the first list would name 20 ministers.
CM meets Chidambaram
Union finance minister P Chidambaram met Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru on Tuesday and assured financial assistance to the state for development projects.
Later, the CM told media it was a courtesy visit.
“I have brought some state-related development issues to the notice of the finance minister,” he said.