BENGALURU: After having successfully pushed BJP, the single largest party, to the opposition benches, challenges for the JD(S)-Congress combine have only begun. Three days after H D Kumaraswamy was sworn in as Chief Minister, the coalition partners are still squabbling over portfolios. While the Congress has prepared a list of legislators to be accommodated as ministers in its quota of 22 berths in the cabinet, the JD(S) wants to wait for the Congress central leadership to approve the list before a decision on cabinet expansion can be taken.
On Saturday, Kumaraswamy met with former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Deputy CM G Parameshwara and D K Shivakumar to discuss portfolio distribution. “A list of people to be accommodated in the cabinet has been prepared along with the portfolios that they should get. It has to be approved by the high command now,” said a Congress source.
Kumaraswamy, who spoke to the media soon after the meeting, acknowledged that trouble was brewing over portfolios. “We are still unable to decide on portfolios since there are a few issues to be sorted out. But they aren’t as serious as to pull down the government,” the Chief Minister said.
Soon after the discussion with the CM, Siddaramaiah, Parameshwara and Shivakumar left for New Delhi for a meeting with the Congress central leadership while ministerial aspirants too made a beeline to stake a claim. “There are portfolios that both parties want, but we are negotiating. It will take some time, but we are confident that we will find common ground. Bilateral discussions are under way,” said K C Venugopal, AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka.
He added that the Saturday night meeting with the central leadership will be more of a briefing about the post-swearing-in ceremony and a short discussion on Legislative Council elections. Congress sources added that appointmets to boards and corporations will take place at a later stage once both parties have decided on the ministries.
The challenge in selection of ministers is bigger for Congress, unlike JD(S) where Kumaraswamy’s decision is final. “Kumaraswamy has already spoken to all legislators and we have given him full support. Whoever he picks will be a minister,” said P G R Scindia of the JD(S).
Rahul meets K’taka leaders
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi held talks with state leaders on alloca-tion of ministerial berths, but exercise remains inconclusive. They will meet again on Sunday.