The much-awaited cabinet expansion in Karnataka is likely to be materialised early next month. The expansion is being differed since August-end, due to internal differences among coalition partners – Congress and JD (S), besides recently held by-polls.
Though JD (S) and chief minister HD Kumaraswamy are ready for expansion since a long, it was Congress delaying the process, fearing that disgruntled party leaders may create problems to the survival of the coalition However, after the coalition’s impressive performance in the by-polls, now everyone is confident on the stability of the government, atleast till 2019 polls.
Sensing the mood of the party leaders, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is the Chairman of the coalition coordination committee, said the much-awaited expansion of the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition cabinet in Karnataka would take place “at the earliest”. “We will have to do it (cabinet expansion); we will do it as soon as possible,” he said.
Referring to the ongoing assembly elections in five states, he said that once the campaign for these polls is completed by early December, Congress president Rahul Gandhi may be free. He said that the state party’s leadership would soon seek Rahul Gandhi’s time to discuss the expansion.
Several MLAs, especially those from the Congress, who are aspirants for ministerial posts, have been demanding the expansion to be taken up at the earliest. Some of them, including former Minister M B Patil and senior legislator BC Patil even met Congress General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal to put forward their case.
This would be the second cabinet expansion since the coalition came to power in May in a post-poll tie-up between Congress and JD(S). Under the power-sharing arrangement reached by the two parties, Congress will have 22 ministers and the JD(S) 12.
In the earlier exercise on June 6, Kumaraswamy had inducted 25 ministers, taking the ministry’s strength to 27. However, the lone BSP Minister in the coalition cabinet N Mahesh, who was inducted from JD(S), quit his post in October, citing personal reasons.There are now six vacant ministerial positions left for the Congress, and two for the JD(S).