BENGALURU: His two-day itinerary mirrored a mix of political parleys with Congress bigwigs and official discussions with Union ministers in New Delhi, but Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy's task was made easy as his father and JD (S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda networked with Congress leaders on the thorny issue of expansion of the cabinet and appointment of chairpersons for state-owned boards and corporations.
On Friday Mr Kumaraswamy chatted with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and leaders of various political parties at a dinner hosted by a well-known media house after official discussions with Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari as Mr Deve Gowda had completed the spadework through meetings with top leaders of Congress including general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, K C Venugopal, on Thursday.
Mr Gowda reportedly pushed for an early expansion of the cabinet and axing of backward classes minister C. Puttarangashetty, known for his run-ins with fellow cabinet colleagues, to ward off a threat to the five month-old coalition government. Mr Gowda also sought appointment of chairpersons to accommodate unsuccessful ministerial aspirants, according to sources in his party.
Sources said Mr Gowda was upset that ministerial aspirants were targeting Mr Kumaraswamy at party meetings with complaints that the CM was being partisan in his decisions and favoured ministers and legislators of JD (S) on allocation for developmental schemes.
Meanwhile, sources in Congress said Mr Venugopal assured Mr Gowda that he would brief Mr Rahul Gandhi and revert on new faces to be inducted into the cabinet though several leaders in his party have reservations about the timing of the exercise and were keen to put it off till by-polls to three Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies. An expansion of the cabinet at this juncture could rock the coalition arrangement and help leaders of BJP gain a head start in the run up to next year's Lok Sabha elections, sources added.
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