Siddaramaiah will begin his new innings as the chief minister with an eight-member Cabinet, as hopes of starting with a full-fledged team got dashed following disagreement with his deputy D K Shivakumar on names.
The development signals a rocky road ahead for the government as the two party stalwarts just emerged after a bruising battle over the CM post that dragged on for four days.
Only eight lawmakers took oath on Saturday at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, though the high command wanted the new Cabinet to have up to 25 ministers.
However, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar could not reconcile their “sharp” division on who should be inducted, which led to deliberations going on till the early hours of Saturday morning.
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On Saturday, several Cabinet aspirants were left disheartened. “What can I say? The entire state had expectations. You should ask those concerned,” senior leader H C Mahadevappa, a Siddaramaiah loyalist, said on his name being left out.
Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar stood their ground on their choices, making it difficult to finalise a Cabinet catering to seniority, regions and castes.
However, the Congress has tried to strike a balance, which seemed to indicate a slight upper hand for Siddaramaiah.
Of the eight ministers inducted, three are Dalits, one Muslim, one Christian and one ST – a combination that favours Siddaramaiah’s Ahinda plank. There is one Lingayat and one Reddy-Vokkaliga.
Mindful of sending the right signal, there are two SC (Right) ministers in G Parameshwara and Priyank Kharge and one SC (Left) – KH Muniyappa. In fact, Parameshwara had warned Congress of consequences if Dalits are neglected. The ST minister is Satish Jarkiholi.
The induction of K J George and B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan are seen as the Congress’ acknowledgement of minorities who voted for the party in a big way. The lone Lingayat minister is MB Patil whereas Ramalinga Reddy comes from the Reddy-Vokkaliga community.
Sources said Siddaramaiah objected to the inclusion of B K Hariprasad and Shanti Nagar MLA NA Haris while Shivakumar was against making Krishna Byre Gowda, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Zameer and Mahadevappa ministers.
Only Khan and Patil — identified with the Siddaramaiah camp — managed to get in while a decision on others was deferred.
According to sources, Shivakumar’s push for 9-11 Vokkaligas to be inducted was opposed by Siddaramaiah who preferred MLAs representing smaller communities.
There were a series of meetings since Friday afternoon. Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar met AICC general secretary Randeep Surjewala on Friday night for a final meeting. There was no consensus with Siddaramaiah leaving around midnight after submitting his list of ministerial choices.
In between, sources said, there were regular calls from Kharge’s office to AICC general secretary KC Venugopal seeking an update. Kharge was not directly involved in the Cabinet talks.
After Siddaramaiah left, Shivakumar stayed back and there were further deliberations. Venugopal then called Siddaramaiah to his residence around 1.45 am on Saturday. It was decided to go with eight ministers for now.
While Siddaramaiah left for Bengaluru at 3.30 am, sources said Shivakumar departed around 6.45 am.