Bengaluru: After a week of intense bargaining, Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday finally expanded his two-member cabinet to induct 25 new ministers.

In the process, the Congress ended with 15 portfolios, the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S) secured nine cabinet berths and one minister was inducted from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had formed a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S). Seven cabinet berths were left vacant.

Senior JD(S) leaders, including H.D. Revanna, G.T. Deve Gowda, C.S. Puttaraju, Bandeppa Kashempur and C.S. Managuli, were among those sworn in as ministers. The Congress was represented in the cabinet by K.J. George, D.K. Shivakumar, R.V. Deshpande and Ramesh Jarkiholi.

Also landing a cabinet berth was R. Shankar, one of the two independents who had contested on a Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha (KPJP) ticket and had later merged his party with the Congress. Veteran Kannada film actress and Congress member of the legislative council Jayamala Ramachandran was the only woman minister to take oath on Wednesday.

With the possibility of Kumaraswamy keeping the finance portfolio with himself, the JD(S) may well have exhausted its share of berths in the new council of ministers.

The decision to induct first-timers, new entrants and unelected members over senior and experienced leaders, in both parties, resulted in many legislators lashing out for being overlooked.

“We are making all efforts to resolve the dissidence in both the parties," Kumaraswamy told reporters after the swearing in ceremony.

The Congress, which has taken great care to balance out caste equations, has not filled all its portfolios, and may accommodate more in subsequent lists.

According to the post-poll arrangement between the Congress and JD(S), the former got 22 portfolios while the regional partner secured 12 berths, including that of the chief minister.

Kumaraswamy said the government’s next course of action, apart from allocating portfolios, would be to draw up a common minimum programme (CMP) under the recently constituted coordination and monitoring committee to help implement pledges from both JD(S) and Congress manifestos.

Former ministers in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, such as Roshan Baig, M.B. Patil, H.K. Patil, M. Krishnappa, Ramalinga Reddy and Satish Jarkiholi, among other leaders, did not feature in the first list. The day also witnessed protests by supporters of some of the aspirants who missed out.

“We will talk to each one of them and resolve the issues," G. Parameshwara, deputy CM and Karnataka Pradesh Congress (KPCC) president said.

Of the total 25 legislators who took oath, eight were Vokkaligas, four represented the Lingayats, two were Kurubas, while one each was from the Brahmin, Uppara and Idiga (OBC) castes. Besides, two Muslims, one Christian, three Dalits, one from the Bedar community (Scheduled Tribe) and one member from the Reddy community were also sworn in.

“Let us not talk about that," Parameshwara said, refusing to answer a question on the preference given to the Vokkaliga community, believed to be the second largest caste group in the state.

Though the two parties have tried to accommodate ministers from all regions, the majority of the ministers hail from South Karnataka, which includes Bengaluru.

In total, there are 14 ministers from south Karnataka, three from the coastal region and four each from Hyderabad-Karnataka and Mumbai-Karnataka.

Parameshwara said that the party will look into it and try to achieve a balance.

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