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21 May 2018

Allies mull two deputy CMs as talks begin..... Congress and Janata Dal Secular leaders discuss government formation with chief minister-designate H.D. Kumaraswamy

HD Kumaraswamy being blessed by Srisri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji in Bangalore on Saturday. (PTI)
TT, May 21, 2018, Bangalore: Congress and Janata Dal Secular leaders discussed government formation and the shares of ministry berths at a Bangalore hotel on Sunday, with chief minister-designate H.D. Kumaraswamy participating.

A state Congress team is likely to accompany Kumaraswamy to Delhi and meet Rahul and Sonia Gandhi before Wednesday's swearing-in to finalise any deal that is reached.

State unit president G. Parameshwara, former chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah and the general secretary in charge of Karnataka, K.C. Venugopal, will be part of the Congress team. Kumaraswamy is expected to invite Rahul and Sonia to the oath-taking in Bangalore.

"Our party high command will decide how many, and which, Congress members would become ministers," Parameshwara told reporters outside the hotel.

Party sources said the Congress was eyeing at least 15 ministry berths, and possibly a few more, leaving 12 to 14 for its alliance partner.

At least one Independent is likely to be given a ministry. There cannot be more than 32 ministers.

How many deputy chief ministers the state will have remains unresolved because of the large number of aspirants.

While Parameshwara is virtually a certainty, a Congress source said, a race is on for a possible second deputy chief minister's post from among Veerashaiva leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa and Lingayat leaders M.B. Patil and H.K. Patil. All three are from the Congress.

Sunday's discussions touched on portfolio divisions too, for the Congress had already said it wanted to keep the finance ministry, the public works department and the home ministry, among others.

It's likely that the new chief minister would hold on to the intelligence departments, just as Siddaramaiah had done through his five-year term.

On Sunday, the allies decided to shift the venue of the swearing-in from the Kanteerava Stadium to the Vidhana Soudha, the Assembly-cum-secretariat, where a stage would be erected at the entrance.

Parameshwara confirmed that all the Congress MLAs would remain quarantined at the hotel where the discussions were held on Sunday.

"All of them will stay," he said when asked whether they would be herded together until the floor test that Kumaraswamy would be likely to take within a day or two after assuming charge.

On Sunday, the Janata Dal Secular members were moved to a holiday resort in Doddaballapur, some 50km to the north of Bangalore.

The BJP has already started a countdown to the possible collapse of the coalition government.

"We will soon get another chance to form a stable government as this one won't last for more than three months because of its inherent differences," Union minister D.V.S. Sadananda Gowda said.

The BJP is discussing which candidates to field in the two Assembly constituencies in Bangalore where elections could not be held on May 12.

Polling in Jayanagar was countermanded following the death of the BJP candidate while the vote in Rajarajeshwari Nagar was deferred to May 28 because of a fake voter card scandal. Jayanagar will vote on June 11.

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