Bengaluru: The ministerial aspirants have to wait for some more days as the much-awaited cabinet expansion is likely to be held next week.
Sources in the chief minister’s office told Deccan Chronicle that the expansion, probably last one of the present government, was supposed to be held before the Gowri Ganesha festival, but put off by some days due to last minute pressure from legislators. Initially, names of Mr H.M. Revanna, Mr R.B. Timmapura and Mr Shadakshari were doing rounds. But now, there is pressure to induct Malavalli MLA P.M. Narendra Swamy and MLC Motamma into the cabinet. In fact, both of them had worked as ministers in the previous Congress government.
Sources said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is batting for the inclusion of former Union minister and MLC C.M. Ibrahim instead of Mr Shadakshari. Both Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Ibrahim belonged to the Janata Pariwar and enjoy a good relationship. To honour this long friendship, the CM has persuaded the party high command to not only make Mr Ibrahim an MLC, but is also pushing hard now for a minister’s post for him. This was discussed with AICC general secretary and in-charge of Karnataka affairs, Mr K.C. Venugopal, last week. The party high command is learnt to have given the green signal for Mr Ibrahim’s inclusion in the ministry, keeping in view the Muslim votes in the 2018 Assembly polls.
The sources said the state government is yet to write to the Raj Bhavan to know the itinerary of Governor Vajubhai Vala to administer the oath to the new ministers. This procedure to keep the governor informed is likely to be done after Monday. Besides, Mr Venugopal and KPCC president Dr G. Parameshwar were planning to meet all the ministers on August 31 to review their work and also to give directions to focus on the completion of all pending projects in their respective departments. If everything goes as per schedule, the cabinet reshuffle may take place either on September 1 or 2.
The sources said the CM has decided bank on Ahinda votes heavily in the coming polls to ensure that the Congress comes back to power. Mr Siddaramaiah had already announced a slew of programmes for backward classes, Dalits and minorities. The CM knew well that it was a herculean task to attract the Veerashaiva-Lingayat voters towards Congress despite having a sizeable number of those community leaders. The issue of giving a separate religion tag for Lingayats has not gone down well among the people of north Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka region, where they were in majority in at least 90-100 Assembly constituencies. The CM, who wants to safeguard the party traditional votes of Dalits, Muslims and backward classes, has favoured Mr Ibrahim over Mr Shadakshari. It may not be surprising if Mr Shadakshari misses the bus again.
Mr Ibrahim’s nomination to the Upper House came as surprise not only for many original Congressmen, but also Dr G. Parameshwar, who had suggested Mr Chandrashekar. But the CM went ahead with his choice and got it approved from the party high command. In case Mr Revanna and Mr Ibrahim get into the cabinet, it would be an upper hand for Mr Siddaramaiah and indicate his close proximity to AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi than Dr Parameshwar, sources said.