BENGALURU: Ahead of the Cabinet expansion in Karnataka on Wednesday, there seem to be fissures within the Congress over the allocation of berths. Supporters of Congress MLA Satish Jarkiholi on Wednesday staged a protest near Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru demanding a ministerial seat for him in the state cabinet.
After a close contest, Satish Jarkiholi had won from the Gokak constituency in the recent elections. Despite claiming that he was widely popular and would be able to win by a margin of over 50,000 votes, Satish eventually won by a margin of 2,850 votes against BJP's Maruti Ashtagi.
The protest comes ahead of the Cabinet expansion at 2 pm on Wednesday. While Chief Minister of Karnataka HD Kumaraswamy took oath two weeks back along with his Deputy G Parameshwara, other posts had been lying vacant. Over 12 Congress MLAs and nine Janata Dal Secular (JDS) MLAs are likely to take oath as ministers in the first expansion of the Kumaraswamy-led cabinet on Wednesday.
There were reports of differences in the JDS also regarding the seat allocation. However, Kumaraswamy had rubbished the reports. Kumaraswamy had said party president HD Deve Gowda has been given total freedom on the next phase of cabinet expansion. "There are no differences at all among our MLAs (over cabinet berths and portfolio allocations). Actually, they have given total freedom to the national president to select the future cabinet," he said.
The swearing-in of new ministers comes a day after the list of 12 Congress MLAs was reportedly finalised in a meeting between Rahul Gandhi and senior state Congress leaders. The Gandhi scion is believed to have given his nod to the list of around 12 ministers which also includes DK Shivakumar who is likely to get an important portfolio. ''Congress' DK Shivakumar, KJ George and Priyank Kharge will take oath as Karnataka ministers today, among others,'' according to ANI.
Sources claim that the portfolio allocation finalised by Rahul Gandhi has been done with an aim to give equal representation to all sections and regions and keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Sources further claimed that some portfolios may remain vacant on both sides to douse any discord in the two parties.
On June 1, the Congress-JD(S) alliance announced the allotment of portfolios among them.
As per the allocation, the Congress got the charge of 22 ministries, including the Home, Irrigation, Health, Agriculture and Women Child Welfare Ministries. While 12 ministries, including Finance and Excise, Public Works Department, Education, Tourism and Transport Ministries was allocated to the JD(S).