Behind all the camaraderie and the euphoria at the swearing-in ceremony of the new Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah in Karnataka, a ‘war’ had broken out between the CM and his deputy DK Shivakumar a day earlier in Delhi.
Cabinet number had to be slashed due to infighting
Sources said the original plan was to induct 28 lawmakers into the Cabinet alongside Siddaramaiah and DKS. It had to be slashed to 8, reportedly due to a factional fight between the camps of the CM and his deputy.
Though the Cabinet strength is 34, sources say an expansion will take place after differences between the two are ironed out.
The tussle between them reportedly took place in Delhi, forcing the high command to delay the release of the names. It has now been decided to wait for a consensus.
DK opposed induction of few leaders
Sidda and DKS rushed to Delhi on Friday to finalise the ministers in consultation with the high command led by AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge, who asked them to pick 10 ministers each. Sidda wanted KJ George, MB Patil, Satish Jarkiholi, BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan, and 6 others as ministers. DKS pitched for G Parameshwara, KH Muniyappa, Ramalinga Reddy, Priyanka Kharge, and 6 others. At the Delhi meet, DKS strongly opposed the induction of TB Jayachandra, HC Mahadevappa, and RV Deshpande — names which Siddaramaiah recommended — on grounds their contribution to the party’s win in the poll was insignificant.
Incidentally, as KPCC chief, Shivakumar had openly reprimanded Deshpande for not mobilising enough people for the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Local media, quoting a senior party functionary, said discussions on the cabinet names went on into the early hours of Saturday but a consensus could not be reached on several names.
Cabinet expansion likely to see long delay
After taking oath on Saturday, Siddaramaiah said Deshpande, a nine-time MLA, will be the pro-tem speaker (temporary speaker who presides over the first meeting of the lower House after which elections will be held to pick a new speaker). He also said a special three-day session of the assembly will be convened, which many construed as a move to buy time to shortlist names of ministers.
It is said the names of Jayachandra and Deshpande are being discussed for the speaker’s post. But Deshpande had categorically stated that he will not take up the speaker’s post. “It is a very responsible position,” he said. “I don’t think I am fit to hold such a responsible post. I worked as a minister under eight chief ministers. I am ready for any ministerial position in the government.”
Sources said the road ahead would be tough and a huge delay in expanding in the cabinet can be expected as both sides are eyeing plum portfolios.