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Karnataka politics: Why only 2 deputy CMs, Congress can have 4, suggests JD(S)

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Bengaluru, May 23: The ongoing political drama in Karnataka is nothing less than a potboiler, full of surprises, bitter rivalries, newfound friendships, secret deals, sensational phone tapes, hurling abuses against each other and carting MLAs off to beautiful resorts and five-star hotels, to name a few highlights.

Finally, when the drama seems to be nearing its climax (political analysts warn there's more to the drama than meets the eye), it's the sharing of power between the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) that has kept everyone hooked to their television sets.

G Parameshwara

Just hours ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of HD Kumaraswamy as the new chief minister of the southern state on Wednesday, on Tuesday evening finally the name of the "much sought-after post" of the deputy CM was decided by the Congress-JD(S) alliance.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief G Parameshwara will be Kumaraswamy's deputy, a post several Congress loyalists like DK Shivakumar wanted to be awarded with.

Parameshwara, the senior Congress man who has been openly expressing his desire to be the CM till the other day--now has to settle in for the post of the deputy CM, made the cut because of his seniority and caste (he is a Dalit).

The Congress which won 78 seats in the Assembly elections held in 222 constituencies got the "lion's share" in the new Karnataka cabinet. Of the state's 34 ministries, 22 went to the Congress and 12 -- including the post of CM--were awarded to the JD(S). Congress' Ramesh Kumar will be the new speaker. The JD(S) has won 38 seats with its alliance partner Bahujan Sanaj Party (BSP) in the elections held on May 12.

After the Bharatiya Janata Party's BS Yeddyurappa resigned as the CM just minutes before the floor test on Saturday, the Congress-JD(S) combine-- which has been invited by governor Vajubhai Vala to form the new government--has been busy ironing out their differences over the distribution of ministerial berths among themselves.

Insiders say the JD(S) was not very keen on having the post of deputy CM (which again is mostly created to keep all alliance partners in any government happy). The Congress, on its part, was interested in having two deputy CMs.

Finally, the name of one deputy CM was announced on Wednesday. Insiders say a post of one more deputy CM is likely to be created once the Congress-JD(S) alliance pass the floor test scheduled on May 24.

On Tuesday evening, during a television debate, when anchor-journalist of NDTV, Sreenivasan Jain, repeatedly questioned JD(S) spokesperson Danish Ali about a second deputy CM in Karnataka, a slightly-miffed Ali said that the Congress can have four deputy CMs and not just two.

"Why only two, the Congress can have four depurty CMs," said Ali. Ali's bizarre reaction to the question was a clear indication regarding JD(S)' disapproval for the very post of deputy CM, which the Congress bargained hard to keep a close-eye on Kumaraswamy and his close-aides.

Congress' Rajeev Gowda, who was also in the panel discussion, was left little embarrassed with Ali's reply, but had to "fake" a smile for the sake of "coalition dhrama".

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