Karnataka ministry to be expanded on June 6, JDS-Cong to fight LS polls as allies

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Bengaluru: Ten days after coming to power, the JDS-Congress ministry in Karnataka is set to be expanded on June 6, as the two parties reached a power sharing arrangement after intense haggling and announced their decision to fight the Lok Sabha polls as pre-poll allies.

Capping protracted hard bargaining with Congress top central leadership stepping in, the two parties voiced their “firm resolve” to ensure that the coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy would complete its full five-year term.

The Congress has conceded the plum Finance portfolio to its junior partner, resolving a thorny issue, after its president Rahul Gandhi intervened and spoke to Kumaraswamy.

“Little bit of issues came in the form of finance portfolio. Lastly, Congress president Rahul Gandhi himself gave directions to us..that this coalition government is the need of the hour of the country,” Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said.

Venugopal said, …”Finally Congress decided to give finance portfolio to JDS, as per the direction of Rahul Gandhi,” as he read out a joint statement signed by him and JDS secretary general Danish Ali at a press conference here.

Kumaraswamy, his predecessor Siddaramaiah and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge were present.

As per the power sharing agreement, the Congress would get the portfolios of Home, Irrigation, Bangalore City Development, Industry and Sugar Industry, Health, Revenue, Urban Development;

Rural Development, Agriculture, Housing, Social Welfare, Forest and Environment, Labour, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and IT/BT, among others.

The JDS’s portfolios include, Finance, Excise, Information, Intelligence, Public Works Department, Power, Cooperation, Tourism, Education and Transport.

Energy portfolio had also emerged as a sticky point in the negotiations, with state senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar, who was the key person who kept the Congress flock together during the political drama, reportedly keen on it.

The rest of the portfolios would be decided by the chief minister in consultation with the deputy chief minister, Venugopal said.

The ministry would be expanded on June 6, Kumaraswamy said.

Kumaraswamy said he and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara met the Governor Vajubhai Vala and asked for his time for the swearing-in but due to his prior engagement in Delhi from June 3 to 5th evening, “ultimately he has given the time for Wednesday 2 pm.”

It had also been decided that the Congress and JDS would fight the next Lok Sabha elections as pre-poll allies, the joint statement said, adding, the exact distribution of seats would be worked out and announced later.

JDS and Congress had stitched up a post-poll alliance at the state level after the recent assembly polls yielded a fractured mandate with BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 members, falling short of the required numbers.

The assembly polls had resulted in a hung assembly, the joint statement said, adding, in this background, the Congress and JDS had come together to form a coalition government in the state.

“Over half the electorate voted for our two parties taken together,” it said.

A common agenda for governance based on the manifesto of both the parties would be prepared and presented to the people of the state at the earliest, the statement said.

The two parties also announced a coalition Coordination and Monitoring Committee which would meet at least one in a month.

The committee comprises Kumaraswamy, Parameshwara, Siddaramaiah, Venugopal and Danish Ali.

Siddaramaiah would be the chairman and Ali the convenor of the coalition Coordination and Monitoring Committee.

Under the agreement, all appointments to statutory boards and corporations would be cleared by the coordination committee.

Two-thirds of the posts will be Congress appointees and one-third JDS.

The two coalition partners also resolved to provide a transparent, accountable and responsive administration, giving the highest priority to farmers, youth and women, to ensuring economic growth in all regions of the state and to promoting social justice and communal harmony.

“The coalition government will be for all sections of Karnataka society,” the statement said.

Kumaraswamy was sworn in as chief minister on May 23.

Two days later on May 25, he proved the majority on the floor of the assembly.

BJP had conceded the numbers game with B S Yeddyurappa resigning on May 19 without facing the trust vote.

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