Congress floor leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday said he would talk to AICC President Rahul Gandhi on filling the remaining six ministerial berths allocated to the party in the Congress-JDS coalition government to prevent dissident activity.
“Let me see. I will discuss with Rahulji, if I get to meet him in New Delhi, about considering immediate filling of the remaining six berths allocated to the Congress to prevent dissidence among our ministerial aspirants,” he told PTI here.
The statement comes in the wake of state party leaders M B Patil and Satish Jarkiholi expressing their disappointment over not being given ministerial berths in the Congress-JDS coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy. Patil and Jarkiholi have been vociferous among the disappointed Congress leaders such as Roshan Baig, N A Harris, Ramalinga Reddy and H K Patil, who have been denied cabinet berths.
Under the power sharing agreement, the Congress has been allotted 22 berths and the JDS 12. The JDS-Congress cabinet was expanded on June 6 with the induction of 25 new ministers, after intense bargaining for ministerial berths. The Congress has left six vacancies to be filled under its quota and the JDS one.
Asked how the AICC and the KPCC planned to pacify senior Congress leaders who had been ministers, Kharge said the high command would discuss with them and find a solution soon. “Our high command will discuss with them (senior Congress leaders, who also were ministers in previous governments) and solve the problem in the next few days. Already, K C Venugopal (AICC general secretary) and Ghulam Nabi Azad are also in touch with them. There is no problem and everything will be solved,” he said.
Kharge said these leaders “are loyalists and have not spoken of deserting the party as they are interested in strengthening, not deserting it”. “We have expanded the cabinet and portfolios distributed. Heartburn among our ministerial aspirants, including M B Patil and Jarkiholi, who did not get berths, will subside. That will happen because they are interested in strengthening the party, not deserting it,” he said. They all want to build a strong party in view of the Lok Sabha elections scheduled next year, Kharge added.
Asked whether the party was contemplating a rotational ministerial policy to pacify the disgruntled legislators, Kharge said he had picked this up in the media that it was the thought of the party working president. “Whatever it may be, in the interest of the party, the leaders and the high command will take appropriate decisions and all party workers will follow suit,” he added.
Asked if the All India Congress Committee or the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee was considering 30-30 power arrangement (each coalition partner heading the government for 30 months), Kharge said the question does not arise for now because terms and conditions of “coalition dharma” between Congress and JDS were announced by K C Venugopal, which is binding on all leaders.
On whether he was unhappy with the portfolios allocated to the Congress, Kharge said he was unhappy over the party not getting a majority in the assembly polls, instead of ruing over the JDS hogging all plum portfolios.
“By unhappiness I mean, we did not get a majority. Had we got it, we would not have formed a coalition government. In coalition, we have to adopt a ‘give and take’ policy,” he said.