BANGALORE: Law Minister T B Jayachandra is going all out to lobby for a deputy chief minister’s post.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah set him up to counter Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President G Parameshwara’s claim to the No 2 slot, but Jayachandra is using the opportunity to make a serious bid, political observers say.
Siddaramaiah is set to reshuffle his Cabinet in the second week of August.
He is using the contest between the two senior leaders from Tumkur district to argue against the creation of a deputy chief minister’s position, which he fears will create a parallel power centre.
Sources said that Jayachandra recently met Digvijay Singh, AICC General Secretary and the party’s Karnataka in-charge, and staked his claim to the coveted post.
He briefed Singh about his credentials as a sixth-term MLA who also worked as deputy leader of the opposition in the previous Assembly.
Jayachandra told Singh the party risks acquiring an anti-Vokkaliga image since all critical posts are now represented by Ahinda leaders. (Ahinda refers to a grouping of minorities, backward classes and Dalits.)
C M Ibrahim’s appointment as deputy chairman of the state planning board also adds to that image, he is said to have argued.
In the Vokkaliga belt in the state, six of the eight seats are now with the Congress, and the community deserves the position, he reportedly said.
Siddaramaiah is on Jayachandra’s side, and could use the contest to scuttle Parameshwara’s chances.
Parameshwara is not moving an inch from his claim for the No 2 slot. K R Pete Krishna, former Assembly speaker, attempted to broker a peace between Siddaramaiah and Parameshwara, but has made little progress.
Siddaramaiah will meet the party high command after the ongoing Assembly session to discuss the Cabinet reshuffle.
During the discussions, Siddaramaiah is likely to bring up the claims of the two senior leaders to argue against the creation of a No 2 position.
The new ministry will be formed before August 15 to enable ministers to hoist flags in their respective districts.
Sources said Siddaramaiah is also thinking of appointing five Parliamentary Secretaries to stem dissidence.