Not even a week & HDK threatens to quit!

Bengaluru: After almost a week of bitter wrangling over portfolios which saw the two sides hit an impasse and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy threatening to walk out of the coalition, the Janata Dal(S)-Congress government have finally laid their differences aside and will, in all probability swear in a full fledged cabinet as soon as Wednesday or Thursday.

The JD(S) pulled off a major coup after the Congress was persuaded into giving up the prized portfolio of finance and setting for home, water resources and the biggie, Bengaluru development, instead. This, despite pressure from old Congressmen clamouring for ministerial rank after being kept out of the inner circle by former chief minister Siddaramaiah who largely inducted colleagues from his old Janata Pariwar days. 

Clinching the deal between the coalition partners were the negotiations between AICC General Secretary, Ghulam Nabi Azad on the one side and Mr Kumaraswamy and his Delhi representative Danish Ali on the other, said sources who added that at one stage with talks going nowhere, the CM even threatened to step down and offer only outside support to a Congress government, if his party did not get the finance portfolio.

Finally, the JD(S) got what it wanted-finance- and also public works and revenue but had to give up the Bengaluru Development and Water Resources ministries. 

Insiders said that "If all goes well and if the minor hiccups are overcome, the new ministers will take the oath of office in a couple of days but it will be a cabinet in 'instalments' with about ten ministers from both parties likely to be sworn in first." 

Initially, the Congress was willing to offer the JD(S) only Horticulture, Sericulture, Forest, Science and Technology and Statistics following which a miffed JD(S) supremo, H.D. Deve Gowda is said to have instructed his son Mr Kumaraswamy to stick to his guns and insist on the finance portfolio. The Congress opposed this, citing precedents in 2004 and 2006 when the Deputy CM in the coalition government-in this case Dr G. Parameshwar of the Congress- had handled finance. In 2004, it was Siddaramaiah as Deputy CM in the Dharam Singh government who handled the state's finances followed by B.S. Yeddyurappa, in 2006-07, as Deputy CM in the BJP-JD(S) coalition government. 

Mr Azad and Mr Ashok Gehlot also argued that it made sense for the Congress to retain Bengaluru Development after winning a large number of seats in the city.

But on seeing that Mr Kumaraswamy was set on finance, Mr Azad changed tack and offered to give up the PWD and Revenue portfolios to the JD(S) besides finance in exchange for Bengaluru Development and Water Resources. A reluctant Mr Kumaraswamy accepted the offer but according to sources, has warned against any more pressure from the Congress saying it would force him to quit office, and end the coalition experiment.

After the trust vote, the JD(S) tally fell further with AICC General Secretary Mr K.C. Venugopal asking if the Congress could get two more berths. Mr Kumaraswamy agreed meekly which further boosted the confidence among Congressmen. With every Congress leader worth his salt going to Delhi and lobbying with the high command for their choice of portfolios, all that the JD(S) was left with, were the minor portfolios barring the CM and it was at this juncture, that the CM put his foot down. 

Finally, it was the turn of the Congress to make amends and give up the finance portfolio to the JD(S) and be content with water resources and Bengaluru development. It looks all quiet for now but like any other political alliance, there could be trouble brewing soon with an aggressive BJP on the lookout for any chinks in the coalition's armour.

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Note from Kannada.Club :

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