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Hard bargaining for Karnataka portfolios begins, Kumaraswamy may have two deputy CMs

HD Kumaraswamy said he would be meeting UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on Monday to invite them for his swearing-in ceremony as Karnataka chief minister.

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: May 21, 2018 07:26 IST
Venkatesha Babu
Venkatesha Babu
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
HD Kumaraswamt,JD(S),Congress
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy celebrates after BS Yeddyurappa announced his resignation as Karnataka CM before the floor test, at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Even as Congress and its new alliance partner Janata Dal (Secular) continued to celebrate the fall of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka, which lasted just 55 hours, both parties have started hard bargaining behind the scenes on portfolios and power distribution.

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, who will be leading the coalition as chief minister, declared on Sunday that there was “no dissension within our party” and all members had authorised him to take “necessary steps for smooth formation of the government”.

He said this after meeting his party legislators, who are camping at a leading hotel in Bengaluru. He also denied reports that the chief ministership would be rotated between the Congress and JD(S) or that any discussion had taken place on portfolio allocation. Kumaraswamy will take the oath of office as the 25th CM of Karnataka on May 23.

Kumaraswamy said he would be meeting with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on Monday to invite them for the swearing-in ceremony. Declaring that he would prove his majority within 24 hours of taking the oath, he said portfolio allocation would be decided after talks with senior Congress leaders. Kumaraswamy also said that no discussion had taken place with Congress on putting up a joint candidate against the BJP for the Jaynagara and RR Nagar seats, elections for which had been postponed.

Senior Congress leader and its leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge, said that his party had extended support to JD(S) to uphold constitutional principles and democracy. He also said that keeping everything in mind, there ought to be a policy of give and take.

There are already some demands within the local Congress leadership that the deputy chief ministership should be given to a person from northern Karnataka as Kumaraswamy has won from south Karnataka, where JD(S) got the maximum number of seats. Also, to ensure a caste balance, there is a demand for a Lingayat to be made deputy CM. Congress has 16 Lingayat MLAs and JD(S) 4.

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy greets former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and his son Yathindra in Bengaluru. (PTI Photo)

The All-India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, whose president is senior Congress MLA Shamnur Shiva Shankrappa, has written to Kumaraswamy demanding that a Lingayat be made the deputy chief minister and adequate representation be given to the community in the new cabinet.

While Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G Parameshwara, a Dalit, is being considered by the party as its likely deputy chief minister, other senior Lingayat leaders such as HK Patil and MB Patil from north Karnataka are also eyeing the post. The Congress is also believed to be asking for 20 of the maximum 34 ministerial berths possible, including the deputy chief ministership. Officially though, both parties maintain the stance that negotiations have not yet started and will be conducted smoothly.

Senior political analyst Mahadev Prakash said that bargaining for lucrative portfolios and for individual candidates was natural in a coalition. “While JD(S) can make almost every third MLA from the party a minister, Congress, which has more legislators, will see more bargaining.”

As reported on Saturday, a galaxy of national Opposition leaders are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new government.

First Published: May 20, 2018 21:21 IST