Playing it safe? Congress fears revolt, no rejig till May 2020

Most national leaders want the reshuffle to be put off till May next year when the coalition government completes two years.

Bengaluru: Worried that any attempt to rejig the state cabinet and induct some of the disgruntled Congress MLAs would be akin to opening a Pandora's box considering the number of ministerial aspirants the party has, the Congress high command is learnt to have decided not to go for a reshuffle - that would have entailed dropping some ministers - at least till the coalition government completes its second year in May next year.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah who is in Delhi, met senior leaders A.K. Antony and K.C. Venugopal and briefed them about the ramifications of a cabinet reshuffle at this stage. Most national leaders want the reshuffle to be put off till May next year when the coalition government completes two years. Moreover Congress president Rahul Gandhi is reportedly in no mood to discuss a reshuffle or a revamp of the KPCC now since his priority is to devise ways and means to rebuild the Congress.

Sources said he wants the coalition government to continue in Karnataka despite strong opposition from his own party legislators.

For this very reason, Mr Gandhi held a meeting with former PM and JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda last week and assured all co-operation from the Congress side to ensure the Kumaraswamy government complete its full term of five years.

He is also learnt to have instructed Karnataka leaders to discuss state issues either with Mr Antony or Mr Venugopal.

If the high command sticks to this decision, it could prove to be a big blow for several berth hopefuls including senior legislators who had watched with dismay when two Independents were inducted into the cabinet a few days ago.
But the party leadership hardly has a choice with almost every legislator breathing down their necks demanding a berth.

Dissidence is also at its peak with legislators like Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi yet to fall in line despite a strict warning issued by state leaders. Those like Shivajinagar MLA Roshan Baig, Hirekerur MLA B.C. Patil, Gadag MLA H.K. Patil and BTM Layout MLA Ramalinga Reddy have been regularly targeting KPCC President Dinesh Gundurao, CLP Leader Siddaramaiah and AICC General Secretary in charge of Karnataka affairs K.C. Venugopal holding them responsible for the party's dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls.

The leadership’s decision to retain the status quo in the government and the KPCC comes amid reports that Siddaramaiah could be made KPCC President and D.K. Shivakumar, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, replacing him. Now it is almost certain that these changes will not happen and Mr. Gundurao will continue as PCC president till May next year.

When the reshuffle happens next year, it may see the exit of senior ministers like D.K. Shivakumar, K.J. George, R.V. Deshpande, Krishna Byre Gowda and M.B. Patil and the induction of senior legislators like H.K. Patil, Ramalinga Reddy, B.C. Patil and Shidlaghatta MLA V Muniyappa, said sources.

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