After nearly a week of discussion, the Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka arrived at an agreement on portfolio allocation in a cabinet of ministers that will be sworn in on June 6. The Congress has given the JDS portfolios of finance and energy after strongly vying for them in the early stages of discussion.
The alliance partners also announced a plan to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as a Congress-JDS coalition, with decisions on seat-sharing and other issues to be taken at poll time.
The partners announced creation of a coordination and monitoring committee that will work to iron out issues between them. The committee will comprise Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Deputy CM G Parameshwara, former CM Siddaramaiah, AICC in-charge for Karnataka K C Venugopal and JDS national general secretary Danish Ali.
Announcing the plan for portfolio allocation, Venugopal admitted that there were some issues on finance as both parties were vying for this portfolio. “In the end, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi gave a direction to the Congress that this type of alliance and coalition government is the need of the hour… In the larger interest of the country, we should take some decisions. He spoke to Kumaraswamiji and the KPCC president and finally the Congress decided to give the finance portfolio to JDS,’’ he said.
The Congress also sacrificed the energy portfolio for the irrigation portfolio on account of several pending irrigation projects started when the Congress was in power between 2013 and 2018. The ministry was also taken on account of it having a political angle, especially in north Karnataka.
The deal was struck after four days of protracted negotiations between JDS and Congress leaders in Delhi. Sources said meetings at Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s residence, attended by Ashok Gehlot, Ahmed Patel, Venugopal and Ali ran into midnight Wednesday.
Sources said Rahul, who is in the US, telephoned JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda earlier in the day after which the cabinet-sharing pact was announced. Rahul was in touch with top Congress leaders who were negotiating with the JDS. The Congress’s decision to cede the finance ministry to the JDS came following Rahul’s intervention after Kumaraswamy made it clear that he would not cede the ministry at any cost. Rahul spoke to Kumaraswamy too.
The final decision on portfolio allocation was taken after Parameshwara and Venugopal met Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy on Friday.
The Congress, with 77 MLAs in the Assembly, has been assigned 22 ministers while the JDS, with 37 legislators, has been assigned 12 ministers. The coalition is also supported by three other MLAs.
The Congress portfolios include home, irrigation, Bengaluru city development, industries, health, muzrai and revenue, urban development, rural development, agriculture, mines and geology. The JDS portfolios include information including intelligence, finance and excise, PWD, education, transport.
“We met the Governor to finalise the date for swearing-in. The Governor is in Delhi until June 5 for the Governors conference, and we have decided to have the swearing-in at 2 pm on June 6. The candidates will be decided later,’’ the CM said.
The Congress and JDS will announce the names of the ministers ahead of the swearing-in. The parties also said they would come up with a common agenda for governance. There will be two designated spokespersons, one each from the Congress and JDS.
Venugopal said, “It has also been decided that Congress and JDS will fight the next Lok Sabha elections as pre-poll allies,’’ he said.