BENGALURU: KPCC president Dr G. Parameshwar will be rewarded on the day he completes five years in the top position as he and three others will be sworn in as ministers on Thursday, with the top brass of Congress keeping the caste calculus in mind while filling four vacancies in the cabinet of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Besides Dr Parameshwar, Manohar Tahsildar, Vinay Kulkarni and A. Manju were picked by the party for induction into the ministry with top leaders deciding to play safe by asking Mr Siddaramaiah to restrict the exercise to an expansion rather than a complete overhaul of the ministry at this juncture. The leaders factored in the prospect of a revolt by those dropped from the ministry and the resultant harm to the party’s fortunes in forthcoming polls to zilla, taluk and Legislative Council.
They waited for 20 months
Twenty months. That’s how long Chief Minister Siddaramaiah kept aspirants waiting before making up his mind to fill four vacancies in his cabinet! Congress legislators raised the issue of a revamp of the ministry in every meeting of the legislature party only to be told that it would be carried out after polls—first to Lok Sabha, then Rajya Sabha, gram panchayats and later BBMP. The unlucky ones have to wait till February or March 2016, and hope for a major reshuffle of his ministry to get onboard.
Sources in the party said an expansion instead of a reshuffle of the cabinet has certainly upset several contenders besides ignoring the need for representation of all districts. The leaders, however, have succeeded in ensuring berths for the Scheduled Castes, backward classes, Vokkaligas and Lingayats during the expansion. Dr Parameshwar, who demanded the deputy chief minister’s post, is likely to be given a plum portfolio on joining the cabinet. He would continue to head the state unit during elections to zilla, taluk and upper House later this year.
An expansion and not a reshuffle of his cabinet was all that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah could manage, triggering disillusionment among several aspirants, because top Congress leaders felt that those axed from the ministry could wreck the party’s prospects in forthcoming polls to zilla and taluk panchayats and to the Legislative Council.
The move to fill four vacancies rather than replace non-performing ministers with new faces has also resulted in many districts going unrepresented while some others have more than a couple occupying top posts.
The Chief Minister, however, has been given a free hand to reshuffle portfolios and appoint new district in-charge ministers and counsel patience to all ministerial hopefuls that a major surgery could be on the cards in February or March 2016, post elections to these local bodies. Moves to appoint a new KPCC president and accommodate Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa in the cabinet, too, have been put on hold in view of these polls, according to sources in the state unit of Congress.
With the party restricting the exercise to an expansion, more than a dozen aspirants who were camping in New Delhi returned red-faced to Bengaluru resigned to the fact that they would have to prove their popularity in respective constituencies during the forthcoming polls. Some of the contenders, who are members of the upper House and nursed hopes of making it to the cabinet, found to their dismay that KPCC president Dr G Parameshwar was the lone MLC chosen for induction into the ministry. In fact, the 34 member cabinet would have only two MLCs—IT minister S.R. Patil and Dr Parameshwar.
Sources said though names of former ministers H.Y. Meti and K.B. Koliwad and former Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar were doing the rounds through the day, they were later told that their turn could come during the reshuffle in February or March.
Former Union minister K.H. Muniyappa, who met party general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Mr Digvijay Singh and Mr Siddaramaiah on Tuesday and Wednesday to press for a berth for Mr Ramesh Kumar, said he was disappointed that Kolar and Chikkaballapura districts continued to be ignored during the latest expansion.
“I met our party president Mrs Sonia Gandhi a fortnight ago and submitted a petition that a legislator from our district must be accommodated in the cabinet. Since Mr Ramesh Kumar is the senior most legislator in our district, I requested her to approve his candidature. Now people of both these districts have no choice but to wait for the reshuffle to see one of their legislators make it to the cabinet,” he added....