A fortnight after becoming chief minister, H D Kumaraswamy will expand his two-member cabinet on Wednesday with over 20 ministers likely to take oath.
Sources said while the Janata Dal-Secular will have nine new ministers, the Congress will have nearly 12 of its legislators inducted into the cabinet. Lone Bahujan Samaj Party MLA N Mahesh will also be a part of the cabinet expansion and will be given a key portfolio.
The new ministers will take oath after days of hard and hectic bargaining between the ruling coalition partners, the JD-S and the Congress.
Kumaraswamy said in Bengaluru that at least nine MLAs from the JD-S would be inducted into the ministry in the first phase.
The Congress finalised its names in the national capital at a meeting with party chief Rahul Gandhi, senior Karnataka leaders like former chief minister Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and party leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao and D K Shivakumar, besides AICC general secretary in-charge K C Venugopal.
Though there was no official word from the Congress, Gandhi is learnt to have given his nod to the list of around 12 ministers which includes D K Shivakumar who is likely to get an important portfolio.
Gandhi met the Karnataka leaders for over an hour and gave final shape to the list of ministers, while according equitable representation to all sections and regions.
Sources said some portfolios may remain vacant on both sides to douse any discord in the two parties.
On the BSP legislator’s induction in the cabinet, JD-S secretary general Danish Ali said, “We will give due importance to our pre-poll ally, the BSP by giving its lone MLA a ministerial berth.”
He also disclosed that BSP supremo Mayawati has deputed its senior leader Satish Chandra Misra to attend the cabinet expansion function tomorrow. This is the first time that the BSP will be a part of a government outside of Uttar Pradesh.
Ali was the key pointman in negotiating an alliance with both the BSP and then the Congress.
Kumaraswamy said there would be “two to three vacancies” which would be filled later.
After the meeting, deputy chief minister and KPCC chief G Parameshwara said the Congress ministers would be a combination of seniors and juniors, setting at rest speculation that juniors wanted the seniors to pave the way for them.
“There is no such thing like priority to senior or junior (in allocation of portfolios),” he said in Delhi before his meeting with the central leadership.
Only Kumaraswamy, along with his deputy Parameshwara, were sworn-in on May 23.
According to the power sharing arrangement, the Congress would have a total of 22 ministers while the JD-S will have 12, including the chief minister.
According to official sources, Governor Vajubhai Vala will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at 2:12 pm at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.
The Congress and the JD-S have also decided on the allocation of portfolios between them as part of the power sharing agreement.
According to the agreement, Congress will get the portfolios of Home, Irrigation, Bangalore City Development, Industry and Sugar Industry, Health, Revenue, Urban Development, Rural Development, Agriculture, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and IT/BT, among others.
The JD-S portfolios include Finance, Excise, Information, Intelligence, Public Works Department, Power, Cooperation, Tourism, Education and Transport.
The ministry expansion exercise has been a complicated affair for both Congress and JD-S, as hectic parleys and lobbying were on for the last fifteen days.
Ever since the chief minister proved his majority on the floor of the assembly on May 25, both parties were driving a hard bargain until Friday last when they announced a power sharing agreement, giving a full five year term to Kumaraswamy.
Yielding ground, Congress had conceded the plum finance and power portfolio to its junior partner, resolving a thorny issue.
The power sharing arrangement, particularly giving “cart blanche” to Kumaraswamy for full five years, has caused discontent in the Congress, with some of its leaders believing that it has been yielding much more than required to its junior partner.
In JD-S, several senior party MLAs were seen making a beeline to party supremo Deve Gowda’s residence for ministers posts.
There are also reports of some disgruntlement over the party’s decision to keep members of the legislative council out of the ministry.
Kumaraswamy meanwhile ruled out any differences among JD-S MLAs over cabinet berths and allocation of portfolios and said Gowda has been given total freedom on the next phase of cabinet expansion.
Both the JD-S and the Congress are likely to accord due representation to the caste combination and regional balance.
JD-S and Congress had stitched up a post-poll alliance at the state level after the May 12 assembly polls yielded a fractured mandate, with the Bharatiya Janata Party emerging as the single largest party with 104 members, falling short of the required numbers.