After days of high voltage drama in Karnataka, BJP witnessed the fall of its three-day-old government yesterday. HD Kumaraswamy picked up his invite to be Karnataka’s next chief minister from Governor Vajubhai Vala and is set to head the Congress-JD(S) coalition. He will be the next chief minister for a second time on May 23. The swearing-in ceremony is supposed to be held in the sprawling Kanteerava stadium.
With their MLAs safely holed up at Hotel Hilton on the road to Bengaluru airport, Congress and JD(S) quietly got down to the tricky business of power-sharing and portfolio distribution. Though a final picture will emerge after H D Kumaraswamy meets Rahul Gandhi and Sonia in Delhi on Monday, it’s expected that Congress will land 20 berths in the 33-member state cabinet.
The swearing-in is going to serve as a show of opposition for non-BJP leaders across the country. The Congress and JD-S alliance aims to project the win as a massive victory with opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu and others expected to attend. The third son of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda had earlier headed the BJP-JD(S) coalition government for twenty months from January 2006.
But even with its 20 seats, Congress will have a proportionately lower representation – 26%, as it has 78 MLAs – than JD(S). Kumaraswamy’s party now has 37 MLAs after he vacated his Ramanagara seat. With 13 ministers, that’s 35% of JD(S)’s total strength. In addition to the CM’s post, JD(S) is expected to keep plum portfolios like finance, PWD and irrigation.
According to sources, Congress, which has offered unconditional support to JD(S), will not make any demands in the interest of keeping this coalition stable.