The Congress is likely to give several of its next-generation leaders in Karnataka a chance to be in the state cabinet in the coalition government with the JDS during a cabinet expansion exercise scheduled for Wednesday.
Fearing dissent within the party on account of a lack of leadership at the state level since the May 12 Assembly elections, the expansion exercise is being carried out under direct supervision of party president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.
Senior leaders including Deputy CM G Parameshwara, who is also the state party president, former CM Siddaramaiah, D K Shivakumar and M B Patil, who are hoping for key positions in the cabinet, have been camping in New Delhi ahead of the cabinet expansion.
After five hours of intense discussions involving Rahul, the Congress on Tuesday could not finalise the names of its ministers who will be sworn in on Wednesday because of serious differences over the names. AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal could not even say with confidence whether all 22 ministers allocated to the Congress would take oath Wednesday. He said discussions were still on in this regard and there were two opinions in the party. Sources said top leaders would meet again late in the night to iron out the differences.
One of the ground rules the Congress has laid down is that those who have been ministers on more than two occasions may not be considered, sources said. This has led to the impression that the party may give preference to its next generation of leaders in the state.
The Congress is also expected to pick ministers with caste equations and regional considerations in mind.
The JDS state leadership has indicated that it would pick one minister each from each of the eight districts where the party has won seats and that seniority would be a key factor in the choice of ministers under Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. The JDS has also decided to make the lone BSP MLA a minister from its quota.
The JDS and Congress are expected to keep at least two to three cabinet seats vacant to ease dissidence.
“The first phase will see eight to nine MLAs inducted, with two to three vacancies,” Kumaraswamy said on Tuesday. In the JDS, the cabinet allocation exercise is being handled directly by JDS national president and former PM H D Deve Gowda.
“All our MLAs had a meeting with the national president of the party. The national president advised all MLAs to cooperate with the new cabinet in developing the state and providing good governance,” Kumaraswamy said.
The Congress, which has 77 MLAs in the Assembly, has been assigned 22 ministers while the JDS with 37 legislators has been assigned 12 ministers. Three other MLAs supporting the coalition through the Congress are also in the reckoning for ministerial posts. Sources in the Congress said there was a possibility of only 12 ministers taking oath on Wednesday.