Bengaluru: Karnataka’s chief minister-in-waiting H.D. Kumaraswamy will meet Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday to discuss the distribution of portfolios between partners of the newly formed coalition.
Portfolio distribution has been a cause of friction between coalition partners, with each party trying to secure as many important ministries as possible. The developments in Karnataka were necessitated because none of the three major parties in the state got a majority in the 222-seat assembly elections on 12 May.
“I am yet to discuss portfolios with Congress leaders. Have only had some discussions at a personal level," Kumaraswamy said in Bengaluru on Sunday.
“It’s only the media that is allotting the portfolios. It hasn’t been done by us," Kumaraswamy said, reacting to reports naming key portfolios to legislators.
Though both parties are yet to formally discuss portfolio allocation, the issue has been a sensitive one for coalition governments in the past as well.
Meanwhile, the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, a representative body of the Lingayat community, on Sunday wrote to Kumaraswamy, requesting him to name senior Congress leader and president of the Mahasabha, Shamnur Shivashankarappa, as deputy chief minister.
The group said there were 16 legislators from the community in the Congress and four in the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), which it said was one of the biggest representations for any community. The group also asked Kumaraswamy to name at least five members of the community as ministers in the coalition government.
In the recently concluded Karnataka elections, the Congress won 78 seats and JD(S) got 38 seats (including one from the Bahujan Samaj Party with which Kumaraswamy’s party has a pre-poll alliance). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest political party with 104 seats. Acting swiftly, the Congress and JD(S) formed an alliance to deny the BJP a chance at power in Karnataka.
The Congress, despite being the bigger partner, has already offered the post of chief minister to JD(S). The two parties had a bitter fallout after they came together to form the government in 2004. Though they claim to share similar values, their bonhomie has been tested in the past. The Congress and the BJP had attacked JD(S) in the run-up to the polls—each accusing the regional outfit of working with the other.
JD(S) has been the only one of the three major parties that has allied with both the Congress and the BJP in the past. Currently, the JD(S) has a coalition with the BJP in Karnataka’s legislative council and has joined hands with the Congress to rule in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP, Bengaluru’s civic body).
Kumaraswamy said he would be able to get a clear picture only after meeting with senior Congress leaders in Delhi. Kumaraswamy is scheduled to take oath as chief minister on Wednesday after BJP’s B. S. Yeddyurappa stepped down barely three days after he was sworn in as chief minister.