H D Kumaraswamy Cabinet all set to see seven new faces during this Dasara

BENGALURU: Dasara festivities commencing next week could well be the harbinger of good tidings for ministerial aspirants with top rung leaders of Congress and JD (S) keen to induct seven new faces into the cabinet between October 10 and 12. Sources close to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said the JD (S) leader plans to secure a go-ahead for the expansion during a meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Friday with his father and party patriarch H D Deve Gowda doing the initial spadework during discussions with general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, K C Venugopal, on Thursday. In all probability, the Chief Minister would ask Mr Gandhi for a list of names of Congress legislators to join his ministry, and announce the date for the swearing in ceremony, sources added. 

Six legislators of Congress and a lone JD (S) legislator would join the ministry to fill seven vacancies in the five-month-old coalition government.  This would be the second expansion of the cabinet since the coalition came to power in May in a post-poll tie-up. In the earlier exercise carried out on June 6, Mr Kumaraswamy had inducted 25 ministers, taking the ministry's strength to 27.  Under the power sharing arrangement reached by the two parties, the Congress would have 22 ministers and the JD(S), 12.

The decision to expand the cabinet has come amid speculations that some disgruntled Congress MLAs were being wooed by the BJP, besides reported factionalism within the party. With a growing number of aspirants and limited ministerial berths in hand, the Congress was preparing a list of MLAs to be appointed as heads to boards and corporations in an effort to pacify them, according to sources in Congress.  Sources in Congress said caste and region would be the key criteria for new faces making it to the cabinet. Evidently, the induction of former water resources minister M.B. Patil has been cleared by the top brass of Congress. Mr Patil has been assured a berth by Mr Gandhi during a meeting in Delhi recently as the former threatened to raise a banner of revolt and held parleys with other aspirants soon after the second expansion of the ministry. 

The party faced criticism for not giving due representation to Lingayats, Kurubas, Reddys and ST community during the second expansion. Therefore, senior leaders of these communities—Mr H K Patil, Mr Ramalinga Reddy, Mr M B Patil, Mr C S Shivalli (Kundgol), Mr E Tukaram and Mr B Nagendra are likely to make it to the cabinet. Mr Nagendra, however, could miss the opportunity to make it to the cabinet as his name has cropped up in illegal mining case in Ballari. 

Sources said legislators who do not make it to the cabinet would be appointed as chairpersons of state-owned boards and corporations in an effort to placate them and to ensure stability of the government.  The expansion, however, could spell trouble for the coalition with BJP leaders ready with plans to woo disgruntled legislators and disappointed aspirants of both Congress and JD (S).

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