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    POLITICS Karnataka: Congress-JD(S) leaders battle coalition turmoil, after marathon meetings, no decision yet

    Karnataka: Congress-JD(S) leaders battle coalition turmoil, after marathon meetings, no decision yet

    According to sources, the leaders are trying to decide whether to go in for a cabinet expansion or reshuffle to placate disgruntled lawmakers.

    Bengaluru: As the Lok Sabha poll debacle pushed the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka to greater turmoil, leaders of the two parties on May 29 held intense consultations to avert a potential crisis in the one-year-old HD Kumaraswamy ministry.

    Rushed here by the party high command on a damage control mission, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal held meetings with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and senior party leaders and ministers to save the coalition from an intensified BJP onslaught.

    Coalition worries have been compounded by the BJP’s spectacular Lok Sabha win. Buoyed, BJP is reportedly eyeing power in the state Assembly now. The ruling combine has 117 members — 78 of the Congress, 37 of the JD(S), one of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and one Independent. BJP has 109 members.

    Plans for cabinet expansion or reshuffle were discussed by Venugopal with Kumaraswamy, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and Coordination Committee chief Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and Pradesh Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao, Congress sources said.

    During the meeting, the leaders discussed the electoral debacle and the alleged threat to the coalition from the BJP, Congress sources said.

    According to sources, the leaders at the meeting were unable to reach any consensus on whether to go in for cabinet expansion by filling three vacant posts or reshuffle by asking a few ministers to step down and make way for the disgruntled lawmakers.

    A section of party leaders, including Siddaramaiah, are said to be of the opinion that cabinet expansion may be suitable, as any attempt for reshuffle may further worsen the
    situation. The CM initially came up with the suggestion of reshuffle.

    Of the total 34 ministerial positions in Karnataka, Congress and JD(S) have shared 22 and 12 respectively. Currently, three posts are vacant — two for JD(S) and one from
    Congress.

    Even as the coalition leaders were struggling to save the government, ministerial aspirants started lobbying, with a few of them even meeting Venugopal on May 29. Many Congress legislators have expressed strong reservation against priority being given to disgruntled MLAs and sidelining the loyalists.

    Emerging from the meeting, Siddaramaiah said, “..no decision has been taken. Today legislature party is meeting, after that we will again sit and take a decision.”

    Dinesh Gundu Rao, without divulging much, said the discussions were centred on election results and the way ahead.

    “There is CLP meeting in the evening, where we will gather their opinion and suggestions. We will again sit and discuss with general secretary tomorrow on the way ahead,” he said.

    Stating that the government was stable, Rao said: “We don’t have any doubts, all are together and are supporting us..I don’t want to speak about cabinet expansion or reshuffle because CLP is there, we will discuss and certainly take some decision.”

    Parameshwara, who too was not willing to comment on cabinet reshuffle or expansion, said there was no confusion, maintaining that the government was stable.

    Rebel Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who has been hobnobbing with the BJP for some time, had threatened to resign from the party along with some MLAs after the Lok Sabha polls. Meanwhile, reports and pictures of Independent MLA Nagesh and KPJP MLA R Shankar meeting Jarkiholi on May 29 has added to the coalition’s worry.

    Also Read: Azad, Venugopal rushing to Bengaluru amid reports of widening rift between Cong, JD(S)

    Also Watch: Bengaluru: Crucial Congress Meeting Underway At Karnataka Deputy CM G Parameshwara’s Residence

     

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