Karnataka polls: Communities seek plum portfolios for leaders | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Karnataka polls: Communities seek plum portfolios for leaders

By, Bengaluru
May 16, 2023 05:44 AM IST

Even before the Congress decides the CM in Karnataka, communities that supported the party have started to demand a berth for their leaders in the cabinet.

Even as the Congress is struggling to find an amicable solution to conflict over the chief minister’s post, the demand for cabinet berths has already begun. The stalwarts of the party, who were part of the cabinet in the 2013 Congress government are hoping to be rewarded again, while communities that supported the party to secure a formidable victory, are demanding seats for their candidates of choice.

Demands for a berth in cabinet rises even befor Congress decides the chief minister (PTI)
Demands for a berth in cabinet rises even befor Congress decides the chief minister (PTI)

Also read: DK Shivakumar says ‘I am single-man majority’ ahead of Karnataka CM decision

The Muslim community has demanded the deputy chief minister post and five plum portfolios for themselves. The community leaders made the demands claiming that the Muslims’ loyalty to the party helped the Congress get the 135 seats mandate in the 224-member Assembly.

Congress party had fielded 15 Muslim candidates out of which 11 had won.

Karnataka Waqf Board Chairman Shafi Sadi put forth the demand before the Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge reminding him that the community had stood behind the party. Sadi was elected as the Wakf Board President during the tenure of the outgoing BJP government.

“Before the elections, we had demanded 30 seats for Muslims but we only got 15 out of which 9 candidates have won. In 72 constituencies, Congress won only because of Muslims. We have stood with the party when it needed us and now it is time to get good ministries in return. We want a deputy CM post, along with portfolios like home, revenue and education,” Shafi Sadi said.

The Lingayat community which supported the party in winning the crucial Bombay Karnataka is also demanding posts for their candidates. Out of the 51 Lingayat candidates fielded by the Congress, 38 of them secured victory, while for the BJP this number had come down drastically. Even though the Lingayats were considered to vote bank of the saffron party, out of the 68 only 18 managed to win.

In order to maintain the shift in support from the Lingayat party, the Congress is likely to give important portfolios to senior Lingayat leaders and a prominent leader from the community is MB Patil.

Rambapuri Seer, an influential Veerashaiva religious leader asked Congress to appoint a Lingayat deputy CM. He said Lingayat support was one of the reasons behind congress victory. “Huge number of Lingayats have backed the Congress and the highest number of MLAs are from the Lingayat community. If an influential & active Lingayat leader from North Karnataka is appointed as the Dy CM, it will contribute to the development of this region,” said HH Dingaleshwara Swami.

Lingayat seers have endorsed Shivakumar. “He is one of the tallest leaders, very dynamic and very productive. I wish him all the best for his upcoming endeavours,” Vachanananda Swami said, after visiting the Congress leader, ostensibly to wish him ahead of his birthday on Monday.

The seer Vachanananda Swami of the Harihara Mutt represents the Panchamasalis, a Lingayat sub-group, who are believed to have played a key role in the Congress winning 28 more seats in the Lingayat belts compared to 2018.

Also read: Karnataka villagers' refuse to pay electricity bill; BJP's 'chaos' warning

Besides the Lingayat Harihar Mutt seers, Shivakumar has been endorsed by the head pontiff of the main mutt of the Vokkaliga community, to which he belongs. Nirmalananda Swami, the head of the Adichunchungiri Mutt, called for Shivakumar to be made the CM.

While Vokkaliga community currently batting for the CM post for the Shivakumar, in the coming days the party is expected to demand important portfolios citing the support given to the party in the previous election.

When asked about the speculations of the party going to deputy chief minister posts to leaders from prominent communities, an AICC secretary said no such decision has been made by the party. “Once the leader of the CLP is selected, the cabinet will be decided in his consultation. No decision on the matter has been made so far,” said the leader.

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