Bengaluru: After months of uncertainty, the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition on Friday inducted two independent legislators into the state cabinet to restrict their options of switching over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and in the process pose a threat to the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) government.
H. Nagesh, a legislator from Mulbagal (Kolar), and R. Shankar, legislator from Ranebennur (Haveri), were sworn in to fill two of the three vacant ministerial berths of the total 34 in the coalition government.
The coalition government opted to induct the two independents instead of several disgruntled elements from with the parties to ensure the BJP is unable to increase its numbers in the lower house of the state legislature and challenge the ruling alliance which has a slender majority. Though most disgruntled Congress leaders did not comment on the induction, some said that they will make their decision known in the next few days indicating that troubles may be far from over for the coalition.
The induction of the two independents will take the total strength of the coalition to 119, including the speaker, in the 224-seat lower house compared with the BJP’s 105.
The induction of the two independents is also indicative of the extent the Congress-JD (S) combine will go to retain power in the state, especially after the drubbing it received at the hands of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP won 25 of the total 28 parliamentary seats, while the JD(S) and Congress were reduced to one each. The BJP had hoped that the discord between the workers and leaders of the two parties, who share a tempestuous past, would implode after the results of the parliamentary elections.
The saffron party was also hopeful of forming the government in Karnataka soon after the parliamentary poll results as it believed that the JD(S) and Congress coalition will crumble under the weight of its own deep-seated differences.
Though the BJP believed that some coalition legislators will resign after the induction, there has been little development on this front so far despite several members publicly expressing their displeasure against the alliance and leadership.
Meanwhile, Shankar, who was dropped from the state cabinet in December, has also submitted a letter to merge his Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party with the Congress.