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'Congress ditching me': Karnataka Minister R Shankar hints at joining BJP if dropped from Cabinet

Shankar is an Independent lawmaker who is reportedly facing the axe over his reluctance to be an associate member of the Congress.

'Congress ditching me': Karnataka Minister R Shankar hints at joining BJP if dropped from Cabinet

BENGALURU: Ahead of Cabinet expansion in Karnataka, State Minister R Shankar on Saturday hinted at joining hands with opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if he is dropped from the ministry. The Karnataka Prajnyavantha Janatha Party MLA said he had not spoken to the BJP but will not hesitate in thinking about the option. 

"I'm getting reports I'll be dropped from cabinet. When they didn't call me for CLP meeting I realised that Congress is ditching me. BJP hasn't contacted me yet, but if I am dropped from Cabinet I'll rethink," he said. 

Shankar is an Independent lawmaker who is reportedly facing the axe over his reluctance to be an associate member of the Congress.

Along with him, Municipal Administration Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi is also likely to be removed in the Cabinet reshuffle. Jarkiholi has been allegedly hobnobbing with BJP leaders and is not attending Cabinet and party meetings. He will likely be replaced by his brother Satish Jarkiholi.

According to a statement issued by the office of Congress Legislature Party Leader Siddaramaiah, Satish Jarkiholi, MB Patil, CS Shivalli, MTB Nagaraj, E Tukaram, PT Parameshwar Naik, Rahim Khan and RB Thimmapur would be inducted into the ministry. 

The press statement came a day after the names were cleared by Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi, after meeting party General Secretary in charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal, CLP leader Siddarmaiah, Pradesh Congress Chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara gave the go-ahead on Friday night.

However, Congress' coalition partner JDS will not be part of this round of cabinet expansion, and is likely to induct new ministers from its side post Sankranthi, sources said. According to the pact reached between the two partners at the time of formation of the coalition government in May, there are now six vacant ministerial positions left for the Congress and two for the JD(S). This would be the second expansion in the ministry in six months.

With the cabinet expansion exercise being deferred repeatedly, several aspirants, especially those from the Congress, had openly expressed their displeasure.