Kumaraswamy to take oath as Karnataka CM today, Congress’ Parameshwara his deputy
Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy will take oath on Wednesday as the 25th Chief Minister of Karnataka.
A galaxy of opposition leaders including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Tejaswi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and actor and politician Kamal Hassan are expected to be present at the event that will happen in front of the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of power in Bengaluru.
Amidst massive infighting in the party for ministerial berths, the Congress announced that only Dr G Parameshwara, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president would be sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister, along with Kumaraswamy. KC Venugopal, Congress general secretary who is in charge of the state, said: “It has been decided that of the 34 (possible) berths, Congress will get 22 positions including deputy CM while JD(S) will get 12 positions including chief minister.” He clarified that other members of the cabinet would be sworn in once the coalition proves its majority on the floor of the house.
Venugopal also said that Ramesh Kumar from the Congress who was a former speaker would be the speaker again and the deputy speaker would be from the JD(S). He added that a co-ordination committee would be setup shortly to ensure smooth running of the government.
The results of the elections held on May 12 threw up a hung house with the BJP getting 104 seats, the Congress, 78 seats and the JD(S) 38 seats (including one for its partner the BSP), and independents, 2. Though BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa was given an opportunity to form a government, he resigned after it became clear he could not muster additional support. The BJP said it would observe “Anti-People’s Mandate Day” on Wednesday to protest the formation of the coalition government .
On Tuesday, Congress leaders held discussions with party members most of whom had two questions: one, on the possibility of a ministerial berth for themselves, and two, on why they were still being sequestered at a leading hotel in the city. Meanwhile, several caste bodies got into the act, demanding representation in the cabinet for their community members. The All India Veerashaiv Mahasbha demanded that its president Shamanur Shivashankarappa be made the deputy CM and criticised Siddaramiah for the previous government’s “anti – Veerashaiva-Lingayat” policy.
The Rashtriya Basava Sena has demanded that MB Patil who led the demand for a separate religion status to Lingayats be made the Deputy CM. Roshan Baig, a seven-term MLA of the Congress, said as a Muslim and member of minority community, he should be made the deputy CM. Other MLAs are also demanding ministerial berths with some of them ferrying supporters from constituencies as a show of strength. The coalition has 117 members in the new assembly, barely 5 above the required majority, excluding the speaker. Any sustained turbulence on the distribution of ministerial berths might impact the functioning of the coalition government.
Kumaraswamy downplayed the frenetic negotiations between the two partners and also within both. “There are no differences of opinion within our coalition partners or within parties as being reflected by the media. We will ensure that everything progresses smoothly.” The floor test is expected to take place on May 25 after the speaker and his deputy are elected.
Harish Ramaswamy, a senior political analyst, said that jostling for berths was expected and the longevity of the coalition government would be dependent on how effectively it satisfies demands from various factions in both parties.