Cong struggles to find solution to avert crisis to coalition

PTI, May 31, 2019, 12:37 PM IST

Bengaluru: The Congress in Karnataka continued to struggle for the second consecutive day on Thursday to avert a potential existential crisis to the one-year-old H D Kumaraswamy ministry, as it discussed a possible cabinet rejig to address the dissent within.

Sent here to stop further slide in the ruling coalition, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal met party ministers in the Kumaraswamy cabinet and senior leaders in the state.

During the meeting, the reasons for the recent poll drubbing, the need for the continuation of the coalition government, strengthening the party and ways to end disgruntlement through cabinet rejig, were discussed, party sources said.

Though Congress leaders on Wednesday were unable to reach consensus on whether to go in for cabinet expansion by filling three vacant posts or reshuffle by asking a few ministers to step down and make way for the disgruntled lawmakers, Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah Thursday indicated that reshuffle was on the cards.

According to the sources, there are talks about first filling three vacant posts and then going in for reshuffle if the need arises.

“It is not that we are not going to accommodate them, time will come, a day will come we will make a reshuffle, then we will consider those who are eligible or deserved,” Siddaramaiah said to a query about accommodating disgruntled MLAs.

Asked when the time will come, he said, “That we have not decided…we will let you know.”

However, Pradesh Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao said the party leadership will take a final decision on rejig along with the Chief Minister, after taking everyone on board.

“What to do- expansion, reshuffle or how to go about it, till we come to a proper conclusion we don’t want to take any unilateral decision.

We want to consult everybody, win everyone’s confidence and create confidence in public also,” he said.

“Nothing has been discussed (dropping ministers), no name is being discussed, we were trying to create unity among us and we are all united.

Ministers have said whatever party decides, they are with us,” he added.

On Wednesday, Venugopal had met Kumaraswamy, senior party leaders and ministers and attended a legislature party meet to save the coalition from an intensified BJP onslaught.

Coalition worries have multiplied after BJP’s spectacular win with 25 of the total 28 Lok Sabha seats in its pocket, leaving a mere one seat each to the Congress and JDS, which, despite a joint fight, were swept away by the Modi wave.

The BJP had won 104 seats and added one more (Chincholi) to its tally in the bypolls held along with Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress had won the Kundgol bypoll.

In the 224 member assembly, the ruling combine has a strength of 115 (Cong-78, JDS-37) excluding the Speaker. BSP with one member and an independent are currently supporting the ruling alliance. KPJP has one member.

Asserting that the government was stable, Siddaramaiah said, “In the meetings we have decided that this government should continue.

There is no threat by BJP and the result of this parliament election will not make any impact on the alliance, because the verdict is not for state government…all our legislators and ministers are united.”

According to sources, during the meeting, ministers have been asked to take the MLAs into confidence and see that they don’t fall prey to BJP.
Ministers have also been asked to be ready if the leadership decides to drop some of them to make way for others.

“With all our ministers we have discussed, they have all agreed that whatever the high command, the party leadership decides, we are hundred per cent with the party to give stable environment for this government.

We will abide by party decision,” Rao said.

Ministers have been asked to work effectively and not get diverted by BJP’s destabilisation agenda and obsession of media in creating an atmosphere of instability, he added.

Of the total 34 ministerial positions in Karnataka, the Congress and JD(S) have shared 22 and 12 respectively.

Currently, three posts are vacant, two from JD(S) and one from Congress.

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