We will not drop any Minister, but will expand Cabinet, says Siddaramaiah

The former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah rules out a reshuffle of the portfolios.

Former Chief Minister and coalition’s coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah on Monday clarified that there is no proposal before the coalition government to drop Ministers. However, he admitted that a decision had been taken to fill up the vacant berths in the Cabinet.

Speaking to the reporters in Mysuru, Mr. Siddaramaiah ruled out a reshuffle of the portfolios. The three Ministerial berths, which were vacant in the coalition government, will have to be filled up by one from the Congress and two from the JD(S).

“We have decided to fill up one vacancy caused by the death of C.S. Shivalli”, he said. Mr. Shivalli, who died in March, was the Minister for Municipal Administration. The JD(S) is also expected to fill up its share of two vacancies.

When asked whether the coalition leaders had a proposal to drop a few Ministers and accommodate others to douse the dissidence, Mr. Siddaramaiah categorically denied that there were any such plans. He dismissed reports suggesting the same as a creation of the media.

Responding to efforts being made by the BJP to wean away alliance MLAs, Mr. Siddaramaiah said nobody will quit the coalition. The former Chief Minister was optimistic that former Minister Ramesh Jharkiholi, who has identified himself as a dissident, will not quit the Congress. “He will remain in the Congress”.

When his attention was drawn to the talks the Congress MLAs Mr. Ramesh Jharkiholi and Mr. Sudhakar had with the BJP leader R. Ashok at the residence of former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna in Bengaluru on Sunday, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the duo’s meeting with the BJP leaders at the residence of Mr. Krishna was purely co-incidental.

“When Mr. Ramesh went to the residence of Mr. Sudhakar, the latter said he was leaving to meet Mr. Krishna. Mr. Ramesh also offered to join Mr. Sudhakar. They did not know that Mr. Ashok and Ms. Sumalatha (actor-turned-MP from Mandya) will also arrive there. It was just a co-incidence”, Mr. Siddaramaiah explained without attaching much political significance to the meeting.

Mr. Siddaramaiah sought to make it clear that there will be no impact of the results of the Lok Sabha polls on the coalition government. “People have given their vote on who should form a government at the Centre. It is not a vote for who should form a government in the State. They have already given their vote on who should form the State government in 2018”, he said.

The elections were held for the Lok Sabha and not for the State Assembly. “When Assembly elections are held, do people elected to the municipality resign? Democracy does not function that way. When we won in the byelections, did Prime Minister Narendra Modi resign?. People make different choices for Lok Sabha, Assembly and local bodies”, he said.

He pooh poohed former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s repeated claims that the BJP will form a government in Karnataka soon and he will become the Chief Minister.

When asked about the loss suffered by the Congress party in the Lok Sabha elections in Mysuru, Mr. Siddaramaiah said it requires a deep introspection. “We will call the block committee heads, district unit presidents and other leaders to discuss the matter,” he said.

However, he said the Congress leaders in the State had informed the Congress Working Committee (CWC) that they had accepted the people’s mandate.

When reminded about the suspicion he had aired on EVMs, Mr. Siddaramaiah said he still suspects the EVMs, but would not question the mandate given by the people in the Lok Sabha elections.

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