BANGALORE: The continued stand-off between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and KPCC Chief G Parameshwara is delaying the long-awaited expansion of the Cabinet.
Parameshwara, who lost the Assembly elections and was later nominated to the Legislative Council, is keen to become deputy chief minister, but Chief Minister
Siddaramaiah is averse to creating a parallel power centre. Fearing a loss of face, the two leaders are refusing to budge from their stated positions.
Parameshwara wants nothing less than the No 2 position, and says the Dalits are unhappy no one from their community has been made chief minister since the formation of the state six decades ago.
Express had reported that Siddaramaiah had called for a truce, and offered Parameshwara two key portfolios. Party insiders say Parameshwara is not against the idea, but is anxious not to appear like he is compromising on the Dalit cause.
Accepting Siddaramaiah’s offer, he fears, will bring him the reputation of being personally power-hungry.
Parameshwara is aware the post he is coveting is merely ceremonial, but over the months, the political build-up has been such that it has made any retreat difficult for him. Even the Opposition BJP members have urged the CM to give Parameshwara the post, but Siddaramaiah’s inner circle is wary.
On the Other Hand
Not giving Parameshwara the job may also backfire, as Siddaramaiah will have no answer to Dalit groups that cite the case of former external affairs minister S M Krishna being made deputy chief minister (1992-94) in the Veerappa Moily government.
Siddaramaiah has told Parameshwara that the party high command will take a final call in this regard.
Former MLC N Manjunath said Siddaramaiah would get an “image boost” among Dalits by giving Parameshwara what he wants. “I am sure the high command will take into consideration the opinion of the SC-ST cell, the women’s wing and the minorities cell,” he said.
“Parameshwara has worked hard to bring the party to power,” he said.
Meanwhile, Parameshwara has decided to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi and AICC Vice-president Rahul Gandhi to stake a claim for the post.
With four ministerial berths remaining vacant in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state, the impasse over the deputy chief minister is hurting all players.