Congress tries to get caste math right in Karnataka as it picks its ministers

After a tug-of-war with the BJP, the Congress-JD(S) combine on Friday successfully installed its government in Karnataka with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy winning the floor test. 

Published: 26th May 2018 02:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th May 2018 08:56 AM   |  A+A-

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and former CM Siddaramaiah wave to the crowd after the swearing-in ceremony of the former in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Express News Service

BENGALURU: After a tug-of-war with the BJP, the Congress-JD(S) combine on Friday successfully installed its government in Karnataka with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy winning the floor test. With this, the Congress has won a battle of sorts albeit with many compromises, including over the chief minister’s post.

The war for the Congress is, however, far from over. With 22 cabinet berths in hand, as per the power-sharing formula with the JD(S), the Congress is having a tough time deciding its ministers and portfolios.

The Congress has 80 legislators (including two independents) and senior party leaders are now immersed in sorting out permutations and combinations so as to arrive at a formula that minimises the heartburn among partymen, with the caste factor playing a big role in the whole process.

“Community comes into play since a limited number of berths are available with us,” said a Congress leader, defining the process through which selection of ministers is taking place in the party.

The party already has a Brahmin Speaker and hence can accommodate just one more from the community in the ministry — making it a toss-up between Dinesh Gundu Rao and R V Deshpande.

Out of nine Kuruba MLAs, the largest chunk of OBCs, at least two will be in the ministry and one each from at least 3 other backward class communities should also make it.

Having a Deputy CM from the Dalit community already, the party hopes to induct two more — one representing ‘Left’ sub-castes and another from ‘Right’.

“We will have at least two ministers from minority communities and hope the JD(S) will induct one, taking the total to three in the cabinet,” said a Congress leader.

“Lingayats are likely to get 2 to 3 cabinet berths while Vokkaligas will get a minimum of two berths. We will have at least one woman minister,” said another leader from the party. 

‘Independents are ministry aspirants too’

Sources said senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar has been given a free hand to choose his portfolio out of what is allotted to the Congress.

“But whether the portfolio will come with the PCC president’s post is the big question,” said a Congress source. The Congress’ biggest headache is its vulnerable legislators.

“Independents are ministry aspirants too. MLAs like Shivanand Patil, Rajashekhar Patil etc want to be in the ministry and if they do not get accommodated we will have a tough time pacifying them,” said a Congress leader.

The party is, however, confident that though many will be disappointed, no legislator will jump ships.

Congress and the JD(S) legislators, who had been put up at resorts, were finally allowed to go back to their homes after the floor test.

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