Karnataka: Congress-JD(S) in tug-of-war, find ministry formation tricky

BENGALURU: Formation of JD(S)-Congress coalition ministry is turning tricky as both sides have come up with a list of strong demands. With both sides playing hard, the Congress high command on Monday asked Chief Minister-designate H D Kumaraswamy to hold talks with a team of leaders led by AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal, who are dealing with Karnataka poll affairs.

Tough conditions from JD(S), including its demand for the Speaker’s post, is said to have proved the hurdle for the ministry formation. According to sources, JD(S) has also expressed its opposition to the proposal to induct former Water Resources Minister M B Patil and KPCC campaign committee chief D K Shivakumar into the ministry. Patil had headed the agitation for a separate religion status for Lingayats, which appeared to have boomeranged on Congress in the assembly polls. The JD(S) leadership is of the view that induction of Patil, who is batting for DyCM post, could deal a big blow for the party’s efforts to endear itself to the strong Veerashaiva community.

In the case of Shivakumar, the JD(S) leadership has reportedly asked Congress to keep “tainted leaders” out of the ministry. The JD(S) leadership, according to sources, pointed to the fact that even Siddaramaiah had kept Shivakumar out of his ministry for eight months as he is under a cloud with allegations of mining and land deals.

Congress is also insisting on setting up of a Co-ordination Committee to ensure smooth functioning of the coalition government and wants to have Siddaramaaih to head it on the lines of UPA co-ordination committee during Manmohan Singh’s regime which was then headed by Sonia Gandhi.

JD(S) leadership is opposing the proposal and has suggested to have the Chief Minister as the head of the co-ordination committee, said a senior JD(S) leader speaking to Express.

Kumaraswamy, who met Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday night to discuss the composition of the ministry was asked to hold discussion with party senior leaders Ghulam Nabu Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Venugopal, KPCC president G Parameshwara and Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Kumaraswmay said, “I will hold talks with the team of Congress leaders led by Venugopal on Tuesday to decide the composition of the ministry, share of berths for JD(S) and Congress in the ministry.”

Kumaraswamy, as decided earlier, would be sworn in on the Grand Steps of Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday.

According to sources, the parties are locked in tough bargaining as the JD(S)’ demand for the Speaker’s post has not gone well with Congress. Replying to a question about the issue, Venugopal stated that Congress would get the post of Speaker.

Congress is demanding a big share in the 34-member ministry with a representation of about 20 for the party and wants JD(S) to settle for 14 including the CM post. Congress is also batting strongly for 2 DyCM posts for the party, which is yet to find favour with the JD(S) leadership. Parameshwara, MB Patil and Shamanuru Shivashankarappa are in the forefront for the DyCM posts.

Rahul and top leaders coming

The swearing-in ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy as CM is set to provide the stage for the coming together of a galaxy of leaders from non-BJP camp. The event is being seen as a much needed trigger to bring these political outfits together ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Kumaraswamy is set to be administered the oath of office by Governor Vajubhai Vala at 4.30pm on the grand steps of Vidhana Soudha. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI(M) leader Seetaram Yechury and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal will be present. While Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu is almost certain to turn up, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik are among those who are expected to attend.

Galaxy of opposition leaders  to be present

A galaxy of opposition leaders are likely to attend the swearing-in of H D Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru on Wednesday. While Rahul Gandhi has confirmed, Mayawalti, Chandrababu Naidu, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, Arvind Kejriwal and Pinarayi Vijayan are expected to be present.

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