BENGALURU: In a move that shows how austerity takes a backseat when it comes to quelling any threat to the government, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is likely to appoint some disgruntled MLAs, who are set to be left out of the cabinet, as parliamentary secretaries at the state’s expense. This is an ornamental post without any specific responsibility.
With just four slots remaining to be filled in the 34-member Karnataka cabinet, Siddaramaiah is said to have got the green signal from the party high command to appoint eight to 10 party MLAs as parliamentary secretaries and also induct an MLA as his political secretary. The posts will carry the status of a minister of state. Incidentally, the chief minister had insisted on keeping this year’s Dasara a simple affair as part of the austerity measures when the state is reeling under severe drought.
According to Congress sources, some of the ministerial aspirants who were camping in Delhi had asked the chief minister to distribute the spoils of power more equitably with the legislators, and the party high command had given its consent for the same.
The appointments would mean an additional burden of about Rs 2.7 crore per annum as each one of them would be eligible for salary and perks of about Rs 2 lakh per month.
Such a move would take the number of those enjoying such ministerial status well over 75 as the chief minister had in November 2014 appointed heads for more than 60 boards and corporations.
Expressing dismay at any move to circumvent the law on the maximum size of the ministry, which is capped at 15 per cent of the strength of the Legislative Assembly, political analyst Sandeep Shastri said, “A low-key Dasara is followed by high-key political accommodation. Nobody cares for the drain on the public exchequer.”
Speaking to Express, he said, rather than concentrating on people’s problems like power crisis, the chief minister is focusing on expanding political power.