Bengaluru: The year-old Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka would be expanded for the second time on June 12, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said on Saturday.
“The Governor (Vajubhai Vala) has fixed the time at 11:30 a.m. on June 12 for the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan,” Kumaraswamy tweeted in Kannada.
Though the Chief Minister has not mentioned how many legislators would be inducted as Ministers to expand the cabinet, a party source hinted that at least three would take oath to fill the vacancies.
“Of the three vacancies, two are from the JD-S quota and 1 from the Congress,” the source told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Of the 34-member Ministry, the JD-S has filled 10 of the 12 cabinet posts and the Congress 21 of the 22 posts, as per the power-sharing agreement of the post-poll allies which is proportionate to their strength in the state Assembly.
As per the amended Constitution, a state government is entitled to have a 34-member Ministry, which is 15 per cent of the 225-member state legislative Assembly.
In the 225-member Karnataka Assembly, including one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community, the BJP has 105, Congress 78, excluding Speaker, JD-S 37, one from regional outfit Karnataka Pragyavantara Janata Paksha (KPJP), one from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and one Independent.
In the May 19 by-elections for two Assembly seats, the BJP wrested the Congress seat in Chincholi while the Congress retained the Kundgol Assembly segment in Hubli district.
“Instead of including his party’s (JD-S) legislators, Kumaraswamy may prefer to make Independent H. Nagesh and KPJP lawmaker R. Shankar ministers to prevent the BJP from poaching them,” said the source.
While Nagesh is the MLA from the Mulbagal Assembly segment in Kolar district, Shankar represents the Rannebennur Assembly segment in Haveri district in the state’s northwest region.
Nagesh and Shankar, however, withdrew support to the coalition government on January 15 on the grounds that they were disappointed by its poor performance.
Shankar was dropped from the cabinet on December 22, 2018 when the Ministry was reshuffled and expanded, as he reportedly refused to re-join the Congress after he contested as a rebel against its official nominee in the May 2018 Assembly elections as a KPJP candidate.
A split verdict in the Assembly elections resulted in the hung house, forcing the ruling parties to form a post-poll alliance to ostensibly keep the BJP out of power as it fell 9 short of the halfway mark (113) for a simple majority.
As the ruling allies faced rout in the recent Lok Sabha elections, winning only one seat each out of the 28 parliamentary constituencies in the state, efforts are on to ensure the fledgling coalition ministry survives and continues to complete its remaining four-year term.