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Congress, JD(S) spar over Karnataka council chairmanship

Congress and JD(S) are now eyeing the chairmanship of the Karnataka Legislative Council, the upper house in the state, after the term of incumbent DH Shankarmurthy of the Bharatiya Janata Party ended on Thursday.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2018 23:08 IST
Venkatesha Babu
Venkatesha Babu
Bengaluru, Hindustan Times
Congress,JD(S),Karnataka council chairmanship
Congress leader KC Venugopal shares a light moment with former chief minister Siddaramaiah in the presence of deputy chief minister Parmeshwara and chief minister of Karnataka Kumarswamy after a joint press conference to announce the distribution of portfolio sharing in Karnataka, in Bengaluru, on June 1. (Arijit Sen/HT File Photo)

Senior Janata Dal (Secular) leader Basvraj Horatti was sworn in as pro-tem chairman of the Karnataka Legislative Council on Friday, a day that also saw him staking claim to the chairmanship while a Congress leader said that the JD (S) was getting greedy despite being the junior partner in the coalition.

The two parties are now eyeing the chairmanship of the Karnataka Legislative Council, the upper house in the state, after the term of incumbent DH Shankarmurthy of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended on Thursday.

Horatti was nominated by the governor to be pro-tem chairman on Thursday.

After the recent round of polls, in the 75 member council, the Congress has 33 members, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 20 and the JD(S) has 14, with two Independents and five vacancies apart from the chairman’s post.

Shankaramurthy was not renominated by the BJP in the recent round of council elections as a candidate and his term as well as chairmanship has come to an end.

Congress sources say being the single largest party, it was natural that it should get the chairmanship of the council.

However, senior JD(S) leader Basvraj Horatti, who is a member of the upper house, said that the post had been promised to him both by chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and JD(S) national chief HD Deve Gowda.

“I was a contender for a ministerial post and was eyeing the education portfolio. However due to coalition, regional and caste considerations, that could not happen. So now I have been promised the chairmanship of the council and I believe it will become a reality,” Horatti told Hindustan Times.

Pointing out that Congress’s KR Ramesh Kumar held the speakership of the assembly, Horatti, who is serving a record seventh term as an MLC, said, “It is but natural that as (Congress’s) coalition partner, we should get the chairmanship of the house.”

However, former chief minister Siddaramaiah who is also the Congress legislature party leader, is believed to be backing senior Lingayat leader SR Patil who is also a former cabinet colleague of his.

Senior Congress leader BK Hari Prasad refused to comment on the difference of opinion between the coalition partners, saying “only the KPCC president is the appropriate person to say anything on it”.

G Parmeshwara who is also the deputy CM was not reachable and SR Patil too was also not available for comments.

However, a senior Congress leader, speaking off the record, said, JD(S) was getting greedy inspite of being the junior partner in the coalition. The father-sons trio (referrring to the Deve Gowda family) wants to grab everything.

“First it was the CMship, then lucrative portfolios and their choice of bureaucrats. What to do, we have our national compulsions and thus have to swallow our pride,” he added.

Stating that former actress Jayamala, who has the women and child development portfolio, is the only member of the upper house in the state cabinet, the Congress leader said it was imperative that a senior experienced hand be made the chairman to ensure “a smooth conduct of proceedings and we have several senior leaders like SR Patil, VS Ugrappa and CM Ibrahim who are all contenders. JD(S) should give up its arrogant attitude”.

Senior political analyst Professor Harish Ramaswamy said this kind of bargaining was to be expected in a coalition arrangement.

“It will be resolved with the intervention of the Congress high command. JD(S) knows it has the upper hand in bargaining because of Congress compulsions at the moment.”

First Published: Jun 22, 2018 23:07 IST