H D Kumaraswamy, the chief minister-designate of the newly formed Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka, said on Sunday that he would prove his majority in the assembly within 24 hours of taking oath on May 23. He is scheduled to meet Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on Monday to discuss the modalities of government formation.
“I will be going to Delhi tomorrow to invite Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi to attend the oath-taking ceremony on Wednesday. During the meetings, we will discuss some of the issues regarding the new government, and, based on the outcome of these talks, we will decide the constitution of the cabinet of ministers and how many will take oath,’’ he said.
“My MLAs have given me the complete responsibility of shaping our participation in the coalition. The issue of formation of the cabinet of ministers has not been discussed formally with the Congress leaders. We have only had some informal talks at a personal level. The Congress has its own procedures in these matters,’’ said Kumaraswamy, who held meetings with his father H D Deve Gowda and his 36 MLAs and also visited a temple in Srirangam in Tamil Nadu on Sunday.
“I will prove my majority within 24 hours of being sworn in as the chief minister,’’ he said. Kumaraswamy said that coalition issues like allocation of portfolios, choice of ministers, creation of a coordination committee were yet to be discussed. Dismissing reports about his party working out a power sharing formula with the Congress of heading the government for 30 months each, he said that “no such talks have taken place”.
While Kumaraswamy was originally scheduled to be sworn in on May 21, the JD(S) decided to postpone the oath-taking ceremony to May 23 on the request of the Congress party, which will observe former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary on Monday.
With the oath-taking re-scheduled for May 23, Kumaraswamy is likely to convene the assembly on May 24. The final decision, however, will be taken after Kumaraswamy takes over as the chief minister.
Denying reports that the JD(S) MLAs were being kept in “safe custody” till the trust vote, Kumaraswsmy said: “We are not holding the MLAs back. We have left it to their discretion to remain in Bengaluru or go back to their constituencies. They are all comfortable. They are tired from the rigours of the elections and are getting some rest, that is all.”
Meanwhile, State Congress president G Parameshwara, who is tipped to be the deputy chief minister, said the party high command would decide how many Congress ministers will take oath on Wednesday. “The Congress high command will decide on all aspects of the Congress part of the ministry, including the position of deputy chief minister. The high command will finalise these things on Monday,’’ he said at the Hilton Hotel, where the Congress has kept most of its 78 MLAs.
Sources in the JD(S) said the party would recommend the candidature of Parameswhara, a Dalit leader, for the post of deputy chief minister.
Parameshwara, however, said there was a proposal to appoint two deputy chief ministers from the Congress. This is seen as an effort to balance some of the caste equations in the state, especially to prevent the alienation of the dominant Lingayat community. The current proposal is to have a Dalit deputy chief minister and a Lingayat deputy chief minister.
The JD(S) has five Lingayat MLAs while the Congress has as many as 19. Lingayat leaders in the Congress are pushing for appointment of a deputy chief minister from the community.
The Congress and JD(S) fear polarisation of the Lingayats towards the BJP following the ouster of Lingayat leader B S Yeddyurappa as the chief minister on Saturday. The Congress also attempted to split the Lingayat votes ahead of the polls by recommending the status of a minority religion for the community.
Both Kumaraswamy and Parameshwara on Sunday denied the possibility of the new coalition partners jointly fighting the elections for two pending seats in the 224-member Karnataka assembly — Raja Rajeshwarinagar and Jayanagar. “Our aim is to ensure that our candidates win and there is no understanding,’’ Kumaraswamy said.