Hyderabad: The coordination and monitoring committee on Wednesday announced that the much delayed cabinet expansion for the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in Karnataka would be held on 22 December. Having missed several deadlines in the past six months since the government was formed, the coalition partners, especially the Congress has had to deal with rising dissent within its ranks which it would like to avoid in the upcoming winter session of the state legislature, scheduled to be commence from Monday.

Former Karnataka chief minister and chairman of the coordination committee, Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said that it would complete the cabinet expansion, name the heads of boards and corporations and also appoint parliamentary secretaries on 22 December, that would be soon after the conclusion of the winter session of the state legislature in Belagavi, about 500 kms from Bengaluru, and home of the powerful Jarkiholi brothers, who have been rumoured to switch sides to the BJP.

The first cabinet expansion that happened soon after the JD(S)-Congress joined hands to form the government after the hung verdict in the May elections, saw many leaders, especially from the Congress express their displeasure in public giving rise to speculation of likely defections in favour of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who need just eight more seats to form the government on its own. The public display of dissent by senior leaders of the Congress was perceived as their intent to switch sides to the BJP, who has continued to reach out to legislators across the aisle. Both the Congress and JD(S) have accused the BJP of trying to lure its legislators with the promise of hefty sums of money and plum ministerial berths,

According to the post-poll agreement between the JD(S) and Congress, the former gets one third while the latter gets two third of the 34 portfolios in the government.

The Congress has six vacancies while the JD(S) has one opening within their respective quotas as per the agreement. Of the 30 boards and corporations, Congress gets 20 while JD(S) gets 10. Siddaramaiah added that the coalition government would also name legislators as parliamentary secretaries but was not clear on the total numbers.

Though there are those who believe that the cabinet expansion would contain the dissent, especially before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, others say that the filling up the berths would leave no room for placating leaders.

The Kumaraswamy-led government has spent much of the last six months dispelling speculation of dissent and keeping together an unstable alliance than on governance. The state cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act that allows parents to enrol their children in private schools if there is no government school within a one kilometer of their residence. The government said that the provision of enrolling children from economically weaker backgrounds to private schools despite the presence of government educational institutions in the vicinity resulted in a dip in enrolments.

Karnataka had allowed parents to admit children in private schools despite having government schools in the same neighbourhood. This has resulted in the enrolment ratio dropping drastically. We have decided to amend the RTE Act allowing parents to admit children in a private school only if there are no government schools in the vicinity.

The cabinet also approved an incentive scheme for movies of any language that promotes tourist destinations of Karnataka. According to the scheme, three films will be eligible for incentives of 2.5 crores and five for 1 crore each. A committee will decide the eligibility based on a points system that varies from detailing destinations to showcasing culture and heritage.

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