Siddaramaiah expands ministry, four inducted

Bengaluru :Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today expanded his nearly two-and-half-year-old ministry inducting four members, including the state PCC chief G Parameshwara, in the long-expected exercise.

After a long wait, Parameshwara, a Dalit, became a minister but without getting the Deputy Chief Minister’s post he was aspiring for, after being coaxed by the Congress top leadership to be part of the cabinet.

Others who joined the 34-member ministry are Manohar Tahsildar, A Manju and Vinay Kulkarni, the latter two as Ministers of State.

Manju and Kulkarni belong to the dominant Vokkaliga and Lingayat community, respectively, and Tahsildar is from the backward Balija caste with the move as an attempt to bring community and regional balance. Parameshwara, who had served as minister twice, heads a group of educational institutions.

The new inductees were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Vajubhai Vala at Raj Bhavan.
The move to fill the four vacant ministerial slots comes after the Congress High Command gave the green signal to Siddaramaiah who had been deferring the exercise for some reason or the other.

Four-time legislator Parameshwara, a doctorate degree-holder, who had led the party to victory in 2013 Assembly polls as KPCC President but had lost the elections, was eyeing the Deputy Chief Minister’s post.

He was reportedly persistent with his demand but was persuaded by the party leadership to accept the ministerial responsibility. Congress which enjoys absolute majority in the Assembly had deputy chief minister only once when S M Krishna had served under M Veerappa Moily.

On why he budged from his position, Parameshwara had said yesterday he was not willing to join the cabinet but Congress President Sonia Gandhi had called him and explained to him why he should be in the ministry and he could not say no.

Siddaramaiah was reportedly not comfortable with the idea of having a deputy as it had the potential to create a parallel power centre.

Parameshwara’s term as PCC chief ends on October 31.

Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa was also reportedly a ministerial aspirant but Siddaramaiah made it clear ahead of the exercise that he would remain in the present post.

To mollify the disgruntled ministerial aspirants, Siddaramaiah is expected to appoint several parliamentary secretaries with cabinet rank.

The Chief Minister is expected to go in for ministry rejig after elections to local bodies due in January-February next.