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Congress to get deputy CM plus 21 berths, JD(S) 12 in Karnataka

BENGALURU, 23 MAY. Karnataka is set to get its first Dalit deputy chief minister in G Parameshwara on Wednesday evening when he takes oath along with H D Kumaraswamy as chief minister on the steps of Vidhana Soudha.

Parameshwara has been KPCC president for eight years and is an MLA for the fourth term now. K R Ramesh Kumar, a six-term member of the assembly from Congress, will be the speaker. The deputy speaker’s post will go to JD(S). The announcement came on Tuesday evening after coalition partners JD(S) and Congress met to discuss the distribution of portfolios.

The final formula arrived at was 11 berths for JD(S) and 21 for Congress, excluding the CM and deputy CM. The Karnataka cabinet’s sanctioned strength is 34. HDK said he will seek the trust vote on Friday. This will be preceded by the speaker’s election. Sources said the full council of ministers will be sworn in on May 29.

The power-sharing formula was reached at a meeting between Congress leaders K C Venugopal, Siddaramaiah, Parameshwara, D K Shivakumar, Dinesh Gundu Rao and S R Patil and Kumaraswamy.

Three names had been discussed for the speaker’s spot — Ramesh Kumar, H K Patil and K J George. Kumar was speaker from 1994 to 1999 when he was in Janata Dal. The clamour for a Lingayat deputy CM — either 87-year-old Shamanur Shivashankarappa or M B Patil, the champion of the movement for a separate religion tag — had grown louder during the day.

D K Shivakumar, who has emerged as Congress’s ace troubleshooter by keeping the party MLAs together from BJP’s poaching, also staked claim for the deputy CM’s post. It is learned that the party high command may make him KPCC chief for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but the latter reportedly will settle for the post along with a berth in the cabinet.

Meanwhile, Vidhana Soudha is being decked up for a grand inauguration expected to see a massive gathering. UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi will attend the event along with JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda.

Besides, the spotlight will also be on the phalanx of non-BJP leaders attending the ceremony. The impressive line-up — including Mayawati (BSP), N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), Mamata Banerjee (TMC), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Akhilesh Yadav (SP), Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Arvind Kejriwal (AAP) and Ajit Singh (RLD) — also points to the potential permutation of opposition parties against BJP for the 2019 LS polls.

BJP members said they will not attend the ceremony and instead will observe it as “Janmat Virodhi Divas (anti-mandate day)”.

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