As Cong-JD(S) spar over portfolios, administration comes to a grinding halt in Karnataka
It appeared as though the deadlock had been broken by the Congress and JD(S), but the issue is now back to square one. The tussle over who gets to keep the finance portfolio in the Karnataka government continues with both sides insisting that they must get it.
Sources say that the talks would move past only if both sides resolve this issue. Kumaraswamy, the Chief Minister of the state is keen on this portfolio as he wants to implement the farm loan waiver that he had promised in the JD(S) manifesto. The Congress on the other hand cites precedence and says that the portfolio has always remained with the deputy CM in past coalitions.
The result of this indecisiveness has led to the administration going into a slumber. Work is not progressing in several departments. There has been a slumber now almost for two months since the code of conduct had come into place ahead of the May 12 polls.
The CM and his deputy are busy sorting out portfolios and appear to have very little time for administration. Barring the two there is not a single minister in the government as a result of which the departments have come to a virtual standstill. There are no key policy decisions that have been taken in the absence of a ministry.
Observers blame the Congress for taking a decision in haste without going through the modalities. They were quick to offer support to the JD(S) and this it appears was done with the sole intention of keeping the BJP out.
After offering support, the next few days saw the swearing in of Yeddyurappa as CM and his subsequent resignation. The JD(S) and Congress MLAs remained holed up in resorts and finally Kumaraswamy was sworn in as CM and a day later he won the trust vote amidst a BJP walk out.
Since that day there has been zero progress and the promise to swear in the council of ministers, three days after the trust vote remains unfulfilled. Sources say that the Congress list of demands only increased ever since it offered support. In what started out as outside support ended up with a hard bargain for all the key portfolios. The bargaining by the Congress has been so hard that it even forced Kumaraswamy to blurt out that he at the mercy of the grand old party and not the people of Karnataka who had rejected him.
The issue is expected to drag on for a couple of days more. K C Venugopal the Congress in charge of Karnataka said that it is not true that this issue had been held up because Rahul Gandhi is abroad. He has authorised Parameshwar to discuss on this issue and take a call.
In Delhi, it is however Ghulam Nabi Azad who is leading the discussions with the JD(S). He has been bargaining hard and during one such discussion, Kumaraswamy even offered to step down. To pacify him, Azad had said that they would give up the finance portfolio.
However the issue is back to square one as many in the Karnataka Congress are not happy about giving up this portfolio.
For now there is no resolution in sight and the indication is that one would get a clear picture only after June 4. There would be talks held today, but there will be break tomorrow owing to the by-poll results. The end result is that with this tussle on for portfolios, the administration in Karnataka has come to a grinding halt.