BELAGAVI: Two ministers are likely to be dropped during the much-awaited cabinet expansion on December 22 to make way for some new faces and senior leaders. The party, under tremendous pressure from its leaders who are lobbying for ministerial berths, is likely to make all efforts to placate as many as it can.
A group of disgruntled leaders, headed by Municipal Administration Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, has been insisting that the party leadership accommodate some leaders from their group, while many from North-Karnataka region, including M B Patil, are also lobbying for a ministerial berth.
As of now, the party can accommodate six ministers, without having to drop anyone.The party leaders have decided to take up the issue of dropping ministers with the party high command when a team headed by Coordination Committee chairman Siddaramaiah meets Congress president Rahul Gandhi on December 20, sources said.
According to sources, the party is still reluctant to name the two or three legislators it wants to drop. According to sources, ministers Jayamala and R Shankar are likely to be dropped.However, the state party leadership is expected to give the list of six MLAs who will be included in the cabinet to the party high command in New Delhi.
But there are some differences among state leaders about who will be the two MLAs to replace Jayamala and Shankar if the latter are dropped.According to sources in the party, at least 11 MLAs have already been shortlisted by the party, of whom six will make it to the cabinet as per the party’s earlier plans.And if Jayamala and Shankar are dropped, one of the MLAs -- Shivalli or M T B Nagaraj --- both Kurubas, will be inducted.However, it is still unclear who is the third MLA to be included.
It is going to be an absolute tightrope walk for the Congress leadership to work out the upcoming cabinet expansion as the disgruntled legislators headed by Jarkiholi may resort to unexpected tactics if they are cornered in the December 22 exercise.
Another party source asserted that Congress was also planning to drop Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi for his rising rivalry with Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar over the past few months.
To prevent Jarkiholis from turning rebels for dropping Ramesh from the cabinet, the party is making its moves cautiously and is keen to replace Ramesh with MLA Satish Jarkholi.Given the clout which Jarkiholis enjoy in North Karnataka districts, the Congress is unlikely to sideline them, sources added.