In a matter of seconds, the mood in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Saturday turned from nervous anticipation to jubilation and triumph for the Congress-JD(S) combine. For the BJP and its two-day-old Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, who announced his resignation on the floor of the House, it was a moment of accepting defeat.
As an emotional Yeddyurappa stormed out of the floor of the House, it was not former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah or KPCC President Dr G Parameshwara or Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who were flashing victory signs to the media that was stationed at the gallery. JD(S) chief and CM hopeful HD Kumaraswamy was standing shoulder to shoulder with former Energy Minister and Congress’ go-to man DK Shivakumar, with the two raising their hands to the video cameras.
DK Shivakumar, after all, has been credited with helping keep the Congress flock together amidst allegations of poaching by BJP leaders. And now highly placed sources in the Congress have told TNM that DK Shivakumar and his supporters are demanding they get their due, with negotiations underway between the post-poll allies on the sharing of cabinet berths and who will get the plum portfolios.
Sources say that DK Shivakumar and his supporters had first demanded for a second Deputy CM post for him. But the apprehension that two Vokkaliga leaders at the helm would send out a wrong message, and the request was turned down.
“DK Shivakumar was the one who made sure that all the MLAs were united. He offered them protection when it was crucial and he wants to be made the Deputy Chief Minister. However, since HD Kumaraswamy is a Vokkaliga, it is unlikely that both parties would want to have the Deputy Chief Minister too from the Vokkaliga community. That’s why they want Dr G Parameshwara as the Deputy Chief Minister. DK wants the Power portfolio and the second Deputy CM post may be given to a Lingayat leader,” the Congress leader said.
A source close to the Congress high command confirmed to TNM that the All India Congress Committee elders were offering DK Shivakumar the post of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President along with a plum ministerial berth.
“Two Deputy Chief Ministers is a far-fetched thing. There is no guarantee that the JD(S) will agree to this demand. That’s why the high command has offered to compensate DK Shivakumar with a bonus. He always had the ambition of becoming the CM and if the party wins the next election, he may as well be the CM candidate, if he becomes the KPCC Chief,” the source added.
Meanwhile, in the JD(S) camp, the leaders are reportedly not too thrilled about the demands put forth by the Congress. Sources say that the party supremo Deve Gowda does not want to install a Deputy Chief Minister at all.
“Our party leaders have learnt from the past that in order to ensure a stable government, only one Chief Minister is required. The Deputy Chief Minister post will only create more differences about power sharing. Deve Gowda wants only Kumaraswamy to hold the power. But they may have to concede to the Congress as they have more MLAs and the JD(S) needs the Congress to survive,” the source added.
JD(S) sources said that the party may have to give several plum posts to the Congress if the cabinet should have equal representation of leaders from across the state.
“JD(S) MLAs are mostly from South Karnataka. In a cabinet we should have leaders from across regions. JD(S) does not have any women MLAs either so some of the good ministerial posts will have to be given to the Congress. However, Kumaraswamy is offering a 60-40 sharing where 60% of posts will go to JD(S) leaders and 40% to the Congress,” the source added.
On Sunday, the President of the Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha, Shamnur Shivashankarappa had written a letter to HD Kumaraswamy, stating that a Lingayat leader must be offered the post of Deputy Chief Minister.
However, Congress and JD(S) leaders said that no decision has been made in this regard and the party elders would discuss the issue on Monday evening and then take a call.