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Karnataka Congress leaders lobby for portfolios as Rahul Gandhi expected to finalise list on Tuesday

More than 20 Congress MLAs and MLCs from Karnataka are camping in New Delhi to lobby for berths with the party high command ahead of the proposed cabinet expansion on Wednesday.

india Updated: Jun 04, 2018 23:36 IST
Venkatesha Babu
Venkatesha Babu
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka,Congress,cabinet
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is expected to finalise the list of party ministers in Karnataka on Tuesday in consultation with deputy CM G Parameshwara. (HT/File Photo)

Karnataka Bhavan in Delhi’s Chanakyapuri area is the hottest address for Congress leaders from the southern state at the moment.

More than 20 MLAs and MLCs from the party are camping in the national Capital to lobby for berths with the party high command ahead of the proposed Cabinet expansion on Wednesday of the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government.

According to an understanding between the coalition partners, Congress is expected to get 22 of the 34 possible ministerial berths.

Some of the prominent Congress MLAs in the Capital who are in line for ministerial berths include Dinesh Gundu Rao, Krishna Byre Gowda, RV Deshpande, Eshwar Khandre, Ajay Singh, Vijay Singh, Rajshekar Patil and Umesh Jadhav.

But at the same time, there is some uncertainty and tension in the Congress camp, particularly over how berths will be divided between leaders of north and south Karnataka.

“A greater portion of cabinet berths need to be given to North Karnataka MLA’s. Also ignoring Veerashiva-Lingayats has cost the party dearly in elections and I hope the high command will address that,” said a senior Congress MLA from northern Karnataka who asked not to be named.

On Sunday, the working president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) SR Patil resigned from his post. While he said he was taking moral responsibility for fewer seats won by the party in the May 12 assembly elections, his party colleague and former Hungud MLA, Vijayanand Kashappanavar, alleged that Patil was posturing for a post.

“Did it take him nearly three weeks to realise his moral responsibility? Knowing that he is unlikely to get a berth, his resignation is to put pressure on the party high command. I am sure the party high command will reward loyal party men rather than those who worked for the defeat of their colleagues in these elections,” Kashappanavar said.

There is talk in party circles that Patil is likely to throw his hat in the fight for the KPCC president’s post.

When asked about his next role, Patil said: “I am ready to take on any responsibility that the party wants me to.”

Party insiders said that KPCC campaign committee chairman DK Shivakumar, who helped stop Congress MLAs from being lured by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the polls is miffed at not being given either the deputy CM’s post or his favoured energy portfolio.

But Parameshwara dispelled such talk. “Shivakumar is a disciplined solider of the party and there is no unhappiness. He will be rewarded by the party appropriately,” he said.

Senior Congress leader and MLC VS Ugrappa insisted there was no dissidence in the party on ministry formation.

“Everybody will abide by the directions of the high command. It is natural in a democracy that leaders might aspire for certain positions. However. the party’s decision is final.”

Ugrappa pointed out that he, too, was a contender for a ministerial berth “I am not a Sannyasi in politics. As a senior leader, yes I am also a contender, but will abide by whatever party decides.”

Even as Congress MLAs lobby for ministerial berths, the BJP seems to be watching developments closely.

Former deputy CM and senior BJP leader KS Eshwarappa said the “unholy alliance” between the Congress and JD(S) will be “eventually brought down due to their greed of power”.

The Congress was quick to respond. “If the BJP thinks that it can come to power somehow by using unethical means, it is living in a fool’s paradise. We might have differences of opinion but BJP will not be able to take advantage of it,” Ugrappa said.

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 23:07 IST