Congress’ new headache: Ministerial berths to social groups in Karnataka

Karnataka Congress chief DKS has tried to play down demands for inclusive representation of different social groups in new state Cabinet

BENGALURU | Updated: 19 May, 2023 2:42 pm IST
Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

BENGALURU: After resolving the disputing claims over the post of Karnataka CM, Congress has now another task at hand: accommodating senior leaders from influential castes and regions in the new state Cabinet.

As chief minister designate Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar prepare for their big moment, Congress MLAs belonging to diverse communities, castes, genders, and generations have demanded that they should be included be made ministers in the new majority government.

The swearing-in is scheduled to take place at Bengaluru’s Kanteerava stadium at 12:30 pm on Saturday.

Responding to these demands, Shivakumar – the state Congress president, before heading to the national capital for a crucial meeting, emphasized, “There is nothing like community or region; we have no caste, no region — there is only one Caste and One region, and that is Congress.”

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Among the Congress candidates, several communities such as Lingayats, Vokkaligas, SCs, STs, Muslims, and Kurubas have secured victories. Many of them have demanded a proportional representation in the Cabinet. Prominent leaders, including TB Jayachandra, expressed their desire for ministerial berths, while Congress working president Eshwar Khandre, assured that there was sufficient space to accommodate everyone.

Speaking to The New Indian in Bengaluru, party legislator Tanveer Sait highlighted the strong support of minorities for the party and called for significant representation, demanding five ministerial posts. Laxmi Hebbalkar, a probable minister and advocate for gender equality, emphasized the need for women’s empowerment across ministries, beyond just Women and Child Development.

Meanwhile, Shanthinagar MLA NA Haris expressed confidence in securing a position in the Karnataka Cabinet.

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On Friday morning, Shivakumar, while dodging questions regarding the proportional representation, extended invitations to every Congress worker and leader in Karnataka to be attend the oath-taking ceremony, stating, “You will receive invitations, but in case you have not, as KPCC chief, I invite every Congress leader and worker to be a part of this historic moment. We have invited various leaders cutting across party lines. I urge all leaders to join us in this significant endeavor.”

He also assured that the new government will approve the party’s all the five major poll promises in the first sitting of the Cabinet.

The promises of the guarantees – as Congress officially calls it – include free power, monthly assistance to women heads of families, free rice, youth support programs, and free travel for women in public transport buses.

Several top Opposition leaders, including Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, Telangana’s KCR, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, and Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, apart from senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi are expected to witnesses Siddaramaiah taking oath as the 24th chief minister of Karnataka.

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