The Karnataka assembly has 224 seats. Photo: Mint
The Karnataka assembly has 224 seats. Photo: Mint

Dissent grows in Congress as more leaders seek cabinet berths in Karnataka

At least 2 Congress members and one from JD(S) in the Karnataka legislative council are seeking to know why they have been left out of the cabinet despite their experience and seniority

Bengaluru: Dissent within the Congress ranks in Karnataka, it seems, has spread to the Upper House of the legislature with fresh members joining the chorus to be considered for ministerial jobs.

At least two members from the Congress and one from the Janata Dal (Secular) in the Karnataka legislative council are seeking to know why they have been ignored, despite their experience and seniority.

The Congress in particular is already facing rising dissent after several senior leaders and former ministers were left out of last Wednesday’s cabinet expansion in the newly formed coalition government under chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy.

One senior leader of the Congress, requesting not to be named, said that the Upper House was created to bring talented and experienced individuals into the legislature. However, according to the 91st amendment of the Indian Constitution, the total number of ministers, including the prime minister, in the council of ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the Lower House.

In Karnataka, which has 224 assembly seats, that would mean a total of 34 portfolios.

“The vision in which the Upper House was created to bring in talented and experienced individuals is not being considered at the time of cabinet expansion," the person, who is an existing member of the Karnataka legislative council, insisted. “It should have been 15% of both houses," he added.

The council is composed of 75 members, 25 of whom are elected by legislative assembly members, another 25 elected by local authorities, seven by graduates and teachers and 11 members are nominated by the governor.

With only 22 ministries in its kitty, the Congress has had to take some tough decisions over the appointment of ministers, which has upset many of its senior leaders, including M.B.Patil, Ramalinga Reddy, Satish Jarakiholi and H.K.Patil.

Those left out of the cabinet have held meetings on a daily basis, forcing the Congress leadership to reach out to them before any of them could destabilise the coalition government.

Members of the Upper House are also irked by the decision to induct veteran Kannada actress Jayamala, who has held no position in the government before, as a cabinet minister. Jayamala was apparently selected as a representative of the Billava community.

Former ministers and senior politicians like M.C.Nannaiah said that considering that it is a coalition government, there would be a limited number of seats that would be offered to council members.