Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with newly-elected Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar during their oath ceremony, at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, on May 20, 2023. (PTI Photo)
In case Dinesh Gundu Rao, BK Hariprasad and Krishna Byre Gowda don’t find their names in the list, it could pose a difficulty for the new Karnataka Congress government. Worse, with the focus being on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, this disgruntlement could cast a shadow on the party’s performance
The picture was nearly perfect at the oath ceremony in Bengaluru on May 20, with the Gandhis, Congress chief ministers and many senior opposition leaders in attendance. In a statement issues later, senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who had skipped the ceremony, thanked the people of Karnataka for the win as did the party workers.
But behind the smiles and wishes, the absence of a few state leaders was noticed.
Former Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundu Rao, who had skipped the ceremony due to high fever and was in Delhi, was in reality was not listed as the Cabinet minister, sources close to him said.
DK Shivakumar replaced Rao as the state chief in December 2019 after the latter resigned from the post “accepting” responsibility for the party’s poor performance in Karnataka by-polls. Rao’s supporters, however, say the leader was in no mood to attend the ceremony and they also couldn’t understand why only eight ministers were sworn-in when at least 10 could have been inducted into the cabinet including Rao.
Not just Rao, BK Hariprasad and Krishna Byre Gowda too were given a miss. BK was parked in Bengaluru even after the results were out in the hope that he would find a place in the cabinet. He has since then switched off his phone and is incommunicado with the top leadership. Krishna Byte too refuses to comment, and, perhaps, has adopted wait-and-watch policy.
A chief minister can appoint up to 34 ministers but only eight took oath on May 20. No woman minister was sworn in; Brahmin and upper-caste faces were also missing.
Top Congress sources told News18 that they were not “planning” more than 10 ministers in the first round. “There is time and space for more. We wanted to immediately represent those who have voted for us”.
The next round of cabinet expansion is expected in a week. Both Shivakumar and Siddaramiah will be in Delhi to finalise the other names. In case Dinesh Gundu Rao, BK and Gowda don’t find their names on the list, it could pose difficulty for the new government. Worse, with the focus being on the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, this disgruntlement could cast a shadow on the party’s performance.
Interestingly, the list of the eight ministers was released by Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal. This has raised eyebrows even as the BJP asked why should not the CM officially decide. The dust has not settled on the Karnataka story yet.