Ending the suspense, the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka has announced that the H D Kumaraswamy cabinet would be expanded on December 22. The decision was taken by the coordination committee of the coalition that met here Wednesday under the chairmanship of former chief minister Siddaramaiah. Congress president Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda were consulted before deciding the date, Siddaramaiah told reporters here after the over two-hour-long meeting of the committee. There has been growing clamour among the MLAs, especially those from the Congress, for expansion of the cabinet at the earliest, with a few openly expressing discontent over the delay.
This will be the second expansion of Kumaraswamy's cabinet, the current strength of which is 26. The Congress and the JD(S) came to power in May after the state assembly elections threw up a fractured verdict. After the first expansion in June, there was discontent among the Congress's ministerial aspirants. The former chief minister, who is also the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), said the coordination committee also decided to appoint a few MLAs from both the parties as parliamentary secretaries to ministers. Under the agreement reached during the formation of the coalition in May, the chairmanship of 20 boards and corporations will go to Congress and 10 to JD(S).
Kumaraswamy, his deputy G Parameshwara, Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal and JD(S) secretary general Danish Ali, among others, attended the coordination committee meeting. Siddaramaiah said measures for smooth functioning of the government and speedy resolution of issues raised by MLAs concerning developmental work in their respective constituencies were also discussed at the meeting. A few MLAs, especially those from the Congress, have reportedly conveyed their unhappiness to the party leadership about the functioning of the government and against a few JD(S) ministers, including Kumaraswamy's brother and PWD Minister H D Revanna. Siddaramaiah dismissed reports about disgruntled Congress MLAs led by Satish Jarkiholi planning to join hands with the BJP.
The Congress leader asserted that the coalition was solid and the BJP's dream of a successful 'Operation Lotus' will only remain a dream. Siddaramaiah said the coalition would remain stable throughout its five-year tenure. He also claimed that the BJP will be defeated in the ongoing assembly elections in five states. Echoing Siddaramaiah's statement, JD(S) secretary general Danish Ali said the coalition government would complete its term. He alleged that media reports about trouble in the Congress-JD(S) combine were sponsored by the BJP.