Chief Minister-designate Siddaramaiah and his deputy D K Shivakumar left for New Delhi on Friday to discuss with the party’s high command regarding the Ministers to be inducted into the new Karnataka cabinet and allocation of portfolios.
A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Thursday formally elected Siddaramaiah as its leader, following which he staked his claim with the Governor, who invited him to form the government.
Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar would take oath as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively along with a few as Ministers at 12.30 PM on Saturday at the Kanteerava Stadium here.
”Siddaramaiah, Randeep Singh Surjewala (AICC General Secretary) and me will be going to Delhi, we will meet Mallikarjun Kharge (AICC President) to discuss the first stage of cabinet expansion and decide about it,” Shivakumar said, before leaving for the national capital.
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Speaking to reporters here, in response to a question, he said, ”fulfilling the promises made to the people is our 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.” 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 generation of legislators. With the sanctioned strength of the Karnataka Cabinet being 34, there are too many aspirants for ministerial berths.
Stating 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, as he invited party workers and supporters across the state to the venue, and asked them to be there much ahead of the scheduled time, to ensure that there is no traffic or any other difficulties.
Shivakumar also invited leaders of the BJP and JD(S) for the event, stating that as public representatives, they too are part of the government machinery.
The DCM-designate also visited Kanteerava Stadium, the venue of the swearing-in ceremony and inspected the preparations there.
Asked whether the guarantees will be with or without conditions, Shivakumar said, ”I won’t say anything now, we will inform you once we decide. We will walk the talk.” ”They are not Shivakumar’s or Siddaramaiah’s guarantees, they are Congress party’s guarantees,” he added.
The Congress has promised to implement the ‘guarantees’ — 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 very first day of assuming power in the state.