Karnataka chief minister-designate Siddaramaiah and deputy chief minister-designate D K Shivakumar have discussed the modalities of cabinet formation in the state with the party leadership in Delhi and are learnt to have shortlisted some names of ministers and their portfolios.
Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar would take oath at 12.30 pm on Saturday at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. A few ministers are also likely to take oath though there was no official announcement.
The two leaders, who flew in from Bengaluru along with general secretary in-charge Randeep Surjewala, held a series of meetings on Friday in the national capital over cabinet formation.
Siddaramaiah held a closed-door meeting with AICC general secretary K C Venugopal and also with Surjewala. Later D K Shivakumar joined them in the discussions over the probable names to be included in the new cabinet.
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The deliberations over the cabinet continued till late at night as top central and state leaders sought to draw a balance between all sections, groups, communities and regions while accommodating all.
Sources said that 20 to 25 ministers could take oath on Saturday.
Some prominent names included former Karnataka Congress chief and ex-deputy chief minister G Parameshwara, Lingayat leader M B Patil, senior Congressman, and former minister KJ George, they said.
Priyank Kharge, the son of Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Roopa Shashidhar, the daughter of former Union minister K H Muniyappa, Karnataka Congress working president Eshwara Khandre, former minister Tanveer Sait, senior leader Krishna Byre Gowda and Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council B K Hariprasad are among the names considered, the sources said.
After hour-long deliberations on Friday, both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar along with Surejwala and Venugopal met Rahul Gandhi at 10, Janpath, where the leaders held talks for over an hour and a half.
Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar also formally invited Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for the swearing-in ceremony.
Sources said the new cabinet would have representation from all regions of the state and sections including SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, women, youth and Lingayats and Vokkaligas, the two prominent communities in the southern state, sources said. Shivakumar is a Vokkaliga.
After meeting Rahul Gandhi, Surejwala and Venugopal headed to party chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence where they are said to have finalised the list of ministers, which sources said would be around 20.
Venugopal had earlier said ”a bunch” of ministers would also be taking the oath.
A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Thursday formally elected Siddaramaiah as its leader, following which he staked claim with the governor, who invited him to form the government.
After arriving in Delhi, Shivakumar told reporters ”We want to invite our leaders, we want to invite Rahul ji, Sonia ji, Kharge ji and Priyanka ji for the ceremony. They gave their sweat, and direction (to the campaign), so I wanted to invite them personally. Later, we are discussing the cabinet formation.”
Asked how many Opposition leaders would attend the swearing-in, he said, ”That we have requested our AICC president to take care of. For us, first is the Congress president and the Gandhi family, we are here to invite them personally.”
He asserted that the promises made by leaders like Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi to the people of Karnataka will be fulfilled in the first Cabinet meeting itself.
Newly-elected MLA Priyanka Kharge, son of the Congress president and who is a probable minister, also met Shivakumar at his brother’s residence at Kaveri apartments.
Before leaving for Delhi, Shivakumar said fulfilling the promises made to the people is the first priority.
”Cabinet, people, all those things we will let you know later, we will not do anything leaving you (media), there is no need for any speculation. We will work unitedly,” he said.
The first challenge that Siddaramaiah is expected to face is putting in place a Cabinet with the right combinations that will strike a balance in having representatives from all communities, regions, factions and also from among the old and new generations of legislators.
With the sanctioned strength of the Karnataka Cabinet being 34, there are too many aspirants for ministerial berths.
Noting that the voice of the people will be the voice of the government of Karnataka, Shivakumar said, ”All our national leaders are coming (for the swearing-in ceremony). On the first day, in the first cabinet, we will implement all our ‘guarantees’, we will keep up our promise.” Several national leaders have been invited for the swearing-in ceremony and most of them are coming, he said.
Shivakumar also invited leaders of the BJP and JD(S) to the event, stating that as public representatives, they too are part of the government machinery.
Earlier, the deputy CM-designate also visited Kanteerava Stadium, the venue of the ceremony and inspected the preparations there.
The Congress has promised to implement ”guarantees” like 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (YuvaNidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti), on the first day of assuming power in the state.