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Congress, JD(S) set out to save coalition in Karnataka but that only widens cracks

Latest flashpoint is between CM Kumaraswamy, who wants a cabinet reshuffle to save coalition, and Congress' Siddaramaiah, who is backing a cabinet expansion.

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Bengaluru: Such is the state of the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka that even objective efforts to save it have only ended up widening the cracks between the two parties.

The latest bone of contention is over the strategy that the two parties should adopt to save the government, which is under increasing pressure ever since the BJP routed the coalition in the Lok Sabha polls, winning 25 of the 28 seats in the southern state.

While Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy wants to reshuffle his cabinet and make way for disgruntled and aggrieved MLAs, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah, who heads the alliance’s coordination committee, believes that a cabinet expansion is the way to go.

As of now, there are 34 ministerial positions in Karnataka with the Congress and JD(S) sharing 22 and 12 portfolios respectively. Three of the seats, however, are vacant — one from the Congress and two from the JD(S).

Sources in the JD(S) told ThePrint that the chief minister is keen on a reshuffle and wants four JD(S) and four Congress ministers to resign. That will give the coalition 11 ministerial vacancies — with the three vacant seats — to accommodate some of the disgruntled MLAs.

Also readAfter BJP win in Karnataka, fall of Kumaraswamy govt is just a matter of time

Sources close to Siddaramaiah, however, told ThePrint that he feels a reshuffle will only add to the dissent as the ministers asked to step down may end up sulking. They said that the former chief minister wants a cabinet expansion to placate some of the dissenting MLAs.

One proposal that has particularly irked senior Congress leaders is the discussion to reinstate sugar baron and dissident MLA Ramesh Jarkhioli, who sparked off the rebellion in the Congress in December last year. Sources in the Congress said that the leaders made this clear to All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and the in-charge of Karnataka, K.C. Venugopal, who met them Wednesday.

Both leaders treating symptoms not disease: Analysts

Political analysts such as the Bengaluru-based Sandeep Shastri said both leaders seem to be treating the symptom rather than the disease. Shastri believes that there is a need for a surgical strike to defend the coalition rather than appeasing a few disgruntled MLAs.

“They need to think beyond appeasing those they think are important to keep them in power. Both Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah are manoeuvring,” Shastri explained. “Siddu is manoeuvering to assert control over his party and Kumaraswamy to obstruct the Congress.”

A section in the coalition also believes that neither strategy really works. “The real problem is that now many MLAs will feel that by throwing a tantrum or making a noise, they can be assured of a ministerial berth,” said a senior JD(S) leader who did not want to be named. “The coalition is in such a fragile state that the MLAs can arm-twist their way into the cabinet.”

Also readCongress-JD(S) is the villain in the disastrous performance of their alliance in Karnataka

Another Bengaluru-based analyst, Mahadev Prakash, believes that the dissent cannot be doused and that the power struggle between Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy will only worsen it.

“If you try to satisfy eight MLAs, 18 will be disgruntled. These 18 MLAs could be loyalists who stood by their parties through thick and thin,” Prakash said. “Now, if they give in to those who blackmail the party, these loyalists will leave them. This situation has already arisen. This alliance will fall apart and may not last 15 days.”

The BJP, which has been accused of attempting to poach the ruling MLAs, also believes that the Kumaraswamy government will fall soon.

“We are clear, we will not poach anybody. But there are MLAs who are in touch with us,” said a BJP spokesperson who did not want to be named. “The BJP will not do anything to bring down the government. If they fall, it will be of their own doing.”

Also readAfter Narendra Modi wave, only a miracle can save Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka


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  1. Isn’t there something wrong about this photograph. A defeated CM holding forth, the incumbent CM to one side, a former Prime Minister of India to the other,

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