Ever since Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced a list of ministers for his cabinet, several veterans of the Congress and the JD(S) have been waiting to get hold of the seven vacant spots.
Over the past few months, Kumaraswamy has kept MLAs on their heels by pushing the date of the cabinet expansion. "The top leaders in Congress are scared of another rebellion. Many leaders are unhappy about being under the control of the JD(S). Some leaders who had aspiration of climbing up the party ranks were sidelined. If the new cabinet is announced, the Congress has a lot to lose as it has no other choice but to sideline some of its leaders," a Congress source said.
Also, the Election Commission is likely to announce the dates for the Ramanagaram and Jamkhandi bye-polls. Once the dates are announced, the model code of conduct will come into effect and the cabinet expansion is likely to be put off once again.
"Ideally, Congress leaders do not want the cabinet expansion to happen before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has already swung into action and is gearing up for the Lok Sabha polls while the Congress is lagging behind due to the internal feud which was blown up by the Jarkiholi brothers. The cabinet expansion is not what the leaders want on their plate right now," a source said.
A senior leader in the Congress party said that since the Election Commission of India is likely to announce the bye-poll date of these two Assembly segments along with those for five state Assembly polls any time now, Congress and JD(S) leaders have decided to put off the expansion.
The JD(S) is likely to field Anitha Kumaraswamy, wife of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy as coalition candidate from Ramanagara while Congress will field its candidate in Jamkhandi segment. Jamkhandi segment has fallen vacant following the death of MLA Siddu Nymagouda Patil.
"KC Venugopal (Congress General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka) and HD Deve Gowda met yesterday (Thursday) and discussed the possible fall out of announcing the new ministers and heads of boards and state-run corporations. Both leaders came to the conclusion that the expansion should not happen on October 10 if the ECI announces the poll dates. There is going to be massive dissent if the names are announced now," the leader added.
CM Kumaraswamy is expected to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi. KC Venugopal is also slated to meet Rahul Gandhi to discuss the issue of cabinet expansion.
Meanwhile, Deve Gowda said BSP supremo Mayawati has decided that BSP would contest by itself in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh Assembly polls whilst keeping the alliance intact. â€œThere is only one MLA from BSP in Karnataka N Mahesh, who is the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education. He is unhappy with the BSP leaders being sidelined because of the Congress and this will cause a major rift between JD(S) and Congress since BSP and JD(S) had formed an alliance. The BSP is also apprehensive about the cabinet expansion since the party leaders fear that Mahesh may be dropped from the cabinet," a JD(S) source added.