Even as discussions here on the cabinet expansion of the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka entered their second day, Congress General Secretary and state in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala on Friday said several names have been deliberated upon and swearing in will take place on Saturday as earlier announced. Siddaramaiah, who took oath as Karnataka Chief Minister last Saturday along with state unit chief D.K. Shivakumar as the sole Deputy Chief Minister, have been holding meetings with senior party leaders for two days now to decide on the new ministers.
Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar had arrived in the national capital separately on Tuesday evening and had held meeting at the party`s war room with Surjewala and party General Secretary, Organisation, K.C. Venugopal to discuss the names of the new ministers. On Friday, Siddaramaiah met Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi for the first time after the swearing-in ceremony. Former party chief Rahul Gandhi was also present. After meeting the Gandhis, Siddamaraiah also met party chief Mallikarjuna Kharge at his residence here. The leaders once again had a brainstorming session at the Congress war room here. After leaving the war room at 15 GRG, Shivakumar too met the Gandhis.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Surjewala said: “Whatever is the decision will be communicated by the only person… Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. He discusses with party. Party does not decide. Cabinet is decided by Chief Minister. Siddaramaiah has discussed various names and we have left him with now to decide on whom to include in the cabinet. High command only discusses the various issues in the interest of the party. “I repeat again that the decision on whom to include in the cabinet is decided by the Chief Minister. And I am told by him (Siddaramaiah) that he will be swearing in the further ministers tomorrow, and thus more details can be only given by him.”
Meanwhile, after meeting Sonia Gandhi, Shivakumar said that everything is fine. Asked about the cabinet expansion on Saturday, he said: “I hope so.” Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi and Venugopal both reached at the residence of the Congress President to discuss the names of the new cabinet ministers in Karnataka. Besides Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, eight more ministers — G. Parmeshwara, K.H. Muniyappa, K.J. George, M.B. Patil, Satish Jarkiholi, Priyank Kharge, Ramalimga Reddy, and B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan — had taken oath on Saturday in Bengaluru. However, none of them have been allocated any portfolio yet. A party source said that the Congress will have to bring balance in the cabinet allocation as it needs to balance of demands of different communities. According to the party sources, 20 to 24 names for the new cabinet have been discussed in the last two days, including representative from each communities.
Source said party leaders like Eshwar Khandre, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, Shivananda Patil, H.K. Patil, S.S. Mallikarjun, Sharanabasappa Darshanapur, Dr. Sharan Prakash Patil, all from Lingayat community are likely to be inducted in the cabinet. Dr H.C. Mahadevappa, a Dalit, K. Venkatesh Cheluvarayaswamy and Krishna Byregowda, both from vokkaliga community, and Byrathi Suresh, a leader from Kuruba community are also likely to take oath as the new ministers in the state cabinet. The source said that Rahim Khan is likely to be the sole new Muslim minister, whereas names of Putta Ranga Shetty from Uppara community, Dr M.C. Sudhakar, K.N. Rajanna, a leader of ST community, Santosh Lad, Madhu Bangarappa, Mankala Vaidya, Shivaraj Tangadagi, R.B. Thimmapur, Nagendra and Boseraju have been discussed too.