Karnataka govt set to induct 2 independents; Congress dissidents ‘wait and watch’
The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition state government is set to induct two Independent MLAs on Friday in a long-awaited cabinet expansion.
Through the expansion, the coalition is hoping to further secure its position in the Assembly, as this will mean it will enjoy the support of 119 of the 224 MLAs in the state, which is six more than the majority mark of 113.
Independent MLA H Nagesh and R Shankar, the lone MLA of the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party, are likely to be inducted into the cabinet. Incidentally, Shankar was dropped from the cabinet in a reshuffle in December and subsequently both he and Nagesh had withdrawn support to the coalition in January.
With a maximum strength of 34, the cabinet has 31 members at present and there are two vacancies in the JD(S) share of 12 ministers and one vacancy in the Congress share of 22 berths.
Confirming the induction of Nagesh and Shankar, Congress state working president Eshwar Khandre said Shankar would be accommodated in the Congress’s remaining vacancy and Nagesh in the JD(S)’s, and the other ministerial berth in the JD(S) quota will be left vacant at present.
“On Friday Nagesh and Shankar will take oath and join the Cabinet. Shankar has agreed to merge his legislature party with ours,” Khandre said. He said there was no threat to the stability of the government and that if need be, there were ministers who were willing to resign their posts to accommodate others.
The coalition government has had a turbulent year in power, after the two parties came together to form the government on May 23, 2018. Dissidents, mainly from the Congress, have made life difficult for the coalition with periodic public expressions of dissatisfaction with the government.
Even in the run-up to this round of expansions, several senior leaders of the Congress, notably former ministers Ramalinga Reddy and Roshan Baig, have hit out at the government for sidelining them.
Two leaders of the dissident faction in the Congress HT spoke to said they would wait and not take any drastic steps at this time. “Let us see what will happen, we will not do anything at this time,” one senior leader said.