Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy expanded his state cabinet on Friday. KPJP MLA R Shankar and independent MLA H Nagesh were sworn in as ministers by Governor Vajubhai Vala on Friday at Raj Bhavan. In the 34-member cabinet, the Congress holds 22 berths while the JD(S) has 11 in its kitty. The Congress had three vacant posts, two of which were filled on Friday.
CS Shivalli was the Minister of Municipal Administration and Local Bodies before he passed away in March this year. The position has remained vacant since then. The position of Primary and Secondary Education Minister is also vacant after N Mahesh, the lone BSP MLA in the Karnataka Assembly resigned from his position. The Congress is mulling over offering senior Congress leader Chivalli’s portfolio, sources say. However, the JD(S) has no plans of offering the post left vacant by N Mahesh.
“Portfolios are not yet decided. The coalition coordination committee will convene and decide soon,” a senior Congress leader said.
The expansion comes in the wake of Karnataka BJP’s attempts to topple the coalition. R Shankar, MLA from Ranebennur, had served as the Minister for Environment and Forests in Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s cabinet before being dropped during the reshuffle in December 2018. R Shankar’s portfolio was given to rebel MLA Satish Jarkiholi in a bid to stop him from defecting to the BJP.
Soon after the reshuffle, R Shankar and Mulbagal MLA H Nagesh had withdrawn their support for the coalition and submitted a letter to the Governor on the same. They had sided with the BJP with the promise of casting votes in its favour in case of a trust vote.
The two legislators were inducted into the cabinet in an attempt to stop the BJP from poaching disgruntled and dissatisfied legislators in the coalition.