G Krishnamohan Rao
The Congress High Command today admitted that the delay in expansion of the council of Ministers in Karnataka is taking its toll on the administration and becoming embarrassing by the day.
On the one side, hard bargaining on portfolios on either side have ended in stalemate, on the other, the Congress High Command is facing intense pressure from the Karnataka Congress legislature party(CLP). Added to this, the JDS is also playing subtle politics to expose Congress’s commitment to the alliance.
Sources say that while deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara is toeing the High Command line, the CLP leader and former CM Siddaramaiah is building maximum pressure on the leadership not to oversell the congress party with 78 members to JDS.
Congress sources admitted that there is no consensus yet on the four key portfolios, though it is said that Finance is the only hitch. The chief minister wants to keep finance since farm loan waiver and other issues are involved. But CLP leader Siddaramaiah is not budging an inch on the finance portfolio for various reasons and saying that there are 78 Congress MLAs against JDS 37 MLAs. In the process, the High command emissary Gulam Nabi Azad is caught in a dilemma.
Another problem Azad is facing is the lobbying for ministerial berths in the Congress by the newly elected legislators.
Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s brother HD Revenna had earlier agreed for PWD ministry. While Congress’s DK Shiv kumar wants to keep this important portfolio. Sources say that during the discussion on distribution of various portfolios, JDS is reminding the Congress that it was the latter that came forward and had extended its "unconditional support" to their party.
Further, Kumaraswamy is also arguing with the congress leadership that ministerial departments have not been reviewed since the model code of conduct came into force for the assembly polls in April this year.
Things will move forward only after party chief Rahul Gandhi returns to India on Sunday. On record, both Kumaraswamy and Parameshwara are maintaining that all is well within the alliance and it is a matter of time before the portfolio allocation issue is sorted out.
Besides these visible follies, there are wheels within wheels on either side. Sources say that Deve Gowda is unsure as to how long Kumaraswamy will continue as Chief Minister given that the Congress and JDS have not arrived at a consensus on the tenure. Sources say that the Congress is keeping the JDS on the tenterhooks on this issue which has irked the father-son duo.