Ashada set to end, rush for Cabinet berths starts

BENGALURU: The Election Commission's decision that an expansion of the cabinet does not tantamount to violation of model code of conduct ahead of polls to urban local bodies (ULBs) has come as a manna from the heaven for ministerial aspirants with half a dozen of them – five from the  Congress and one from the JD (S)-likely to be sworn-in later this month. With the inauspicious month of Ashada set to end on August 12, these aspirants are eager to make it to the cabinet with the date for expansion likely to be finalized in a day or two. The oath-taking ceremony would be held after Congress president Rahul Gandhi's rally in Bidar on August 12. 

The Congress is likely to induct two Lingayat legislators, and one each from Kuruba, minorities and SC (L) to fill five vacancies. Mr B M Farooq, MLC, a businessman who unsuccessfully contested Rajya Sabha polls twice, would be the lone JD (S) member to join the cabinet. Several other JD (S) legislators too are lobbying for a berth in the cabinet according to sources in the camps of both coalition partners. 

In the Congress, former ministers M B Patil, H K Patil, H M Revanna, Roshan Baig and several others are lobbying for a place in the cabinet.  Party leaders are wary that many of these leaders could either adopt a neutral stand or upset the calculations of the party in urban local body polls in case they delay expansion of the ministry.  The leaders are keen to capture power in most of the 105 urban local bodies going to polls on August 29.   

In addition to expansion of the cabinet, the coalition partners also plan to appoint chairpersons to 30 state-owned boards and corporations in an effort to placate legislators who do not make it to the ministry, helping to contain discontent before the crucial urban local body elections, sources added.    Congress leaders said all these issues were discussed by party general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, Mr K C Venugopal, with Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundurao and deputy chief minister Dr G Parameshwar during his recent visit to Bengaluru to galvanize the state unit of the party for urban local body elections.

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