Karnataka MLAs sworn in: Congress likely to expand Cabinet on 26 or 27 May

Siddaramaiah ordered a freeze on all BJP-approved funding and payments to projects of departments, corporations, boards, and authorities.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 23, 2023 | 5:38 AM Updated May 23, 2023 | 7:51 AM

Karnataka Congress Siddaramaiah

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar took oath in the 16th Karnataka Assembly in the name of God on Monday, 22 May.

This was part of the proceedings of the first day of the Assembly session that kicked off at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.

The ruling Congress government called for a three-day Assembly session that began on Monday. This session will conclude with the ruling party electing the Speaker of the House.

Karnataka Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot administered the oath of office to senior Congress leader RV Deshpande as the pro-tem Speaker for the current session.

Appealing to the newly elected MLAs to strive for the overall development of their respective segments, Deshpande said: “We have all been elected and come to the Vidhana Soudha with the blessings of people of the state. Despite political differences, for development and welfare, we all have to work in tandem to build a model Karnataka. All sections of people should live with peace and harmony.”

He added: “There are some senior leaders and I can also see many new faces. We have to make efforts for the overall development.”

The eight Cabinet ministers include KH Muniyappa, G Parameshwar, MB Patil, and Zameer Ahmed Khan.

Others who were sworn in included former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha chief and Gangawathi MLA Gali Jhanardhan Reddy, and Melukote MLA Darshan Puttannaiah.

Cabinet expansion soon?  

A week after the election results, the Congress high command is likely to expand the Cabinet fully either on 26 or 27 May and allocate portfolios on the same day.

Of the 34 Cabinet posts, the Congress has filled 10. For the remaining 24 posts, the high command is likely to release the final list after Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar convene a meeting with the central leadership in Delhi either on Thursday or Friday, claimed party sources.

KPCC working president Saleem Ahmed told South First: “The central leadership is likely to expand the Cabinet fully either on 26 or 27 May. The state leaders are expected to meet the high command after the end of the ongoing three-day Assembly session.”

He added that including him in the Cabinet would be left to the party high command.

Senior leaders like Gadag MLA HK Patil, Yelburga MLA Basavaraj Rayareddy, Kanakagiri MLA Shivaraj Tangadagi, Belagavi Rural MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar, Sira MLA TB Jayachandra, Mangaluru MLA UT Khader, Hebbal MLA Byrathi Suresh, Narasimharaja MLA Tanveer Sait, and others are aspirants for Cabinet posts.

Also read: Karnataka Congress accuses BJP of largescale scam

More details

Many senior Congress leaders have reportedly not shown any interest in the post of the Speaker, the chairperson of the Assembly, who is likely to be elected by the end of the ongoing session.

Acting speaker Deshpande has reportedly made it clear to the high command that he is not interested in continuing in the post.

On condition of anonymity, a senior Congress leader told South First: “The party is planning to appoint one of these senior leaders — Deshpande, HK Patil, or TB Jayachandra — as the chairman of the Assembly. These three leaders are the most experienced and have held various posts in the government and the party.”

The lawmaker added: “The party is looking for other senior leaders as two out of these three shortlisted leaders are not happy with the party’s plan. The party has called for the legislative party meeting on Tuesday, where it is likely to formally elect the Speaker for this tenure.”

According to sources: “The party had planned to appoint HK Patil as the Speaker. After it came to his notice, he met the party high command at Delhi and told them he was not interested in the post and urged that he be included in the Cabinet.”

Also read: Siddaramaiah Cabinet approves Congress’ 5 guarantees

Siddaramaiah freezes funding

In one of the biggest political developments in Karnataka on Monday, the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government ordered the stoppage of funding to all the projects sanctioned by the previous BJP government and put them under scrutiny.

According to an order issued from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO): “On the directions of the chief minister, the release and payment for the projects related to various departments, boards, authorities and corporations sanctioned in the previous (BJP) government should be stopped with immediate effect. Even the projects that are yet to start should also be stopped.”

It may be recalled that even before the elections were announced, Congress leaders — including Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar — had approached the Election Commission alleging irregularities in all the tenders and contracts sanctioned by the BJP government.

Before the Assembly elections, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar promised that the Congresss would cancel all the work orders, tenders and contracts issued by the BJP government as soon as it came to power.

Scandals to be investigated

Stating that the Congress government would investigate all the scandals and scams in the previous BJP regime, minister MB Patil told reporters: “From seeking 40 percent commission to clear projects to the bitcoin scam to the PSI recruitment scandal and irregularities in the Water Resources Department and Public Works Department, everything would be investigated.”

He added: “Corruption charges, scams, and irregularities in various departments and many more allegations were levelled against the BJP government. However, they were not investigated properly. The Congress government will order an investigation on all the charges against the BJP.”

Responding to this, Bommai challenged the ruling Congress government to prove the 40-percent commission allegations with evidence.

“The Congress levelled allegations of taking 40 percent commission against the BJP. I demand the ruling party to prove the commission charges with evidence. Let them probe,” Bommai told reporters in Bengaluru on Monday.

Also read: Details about first-time Karnataka MLAs

Congress uses cow urine

Before the first Assembly session kick-started, Congress workers cleansed and purified and offered prayers on the premises of the Vidhana Soudha with “Gomutra” (cow urine) on Monday.

The ruling party workers reportedly cleansed and purified the premises with cow urine to mark an end of the corrupt BJP government regime in Karnataka.

“The premises of Vidhana Soudha are being purified with cow urine to mark the end of the corrupt BJP’s governance. The party has also put the break for the BJP. Congress will officially begin its governance in the state from Monday. Hence, the purification was conducted,” a Congress party worker told reporters.

In January, Shivakumar had said that the time had come to cleanse the Vidhana Soudha with cow urine.

“The Assembly had been polluted by corruption during the BJP’s tenure. The party will come up with details to purify the Vidhana Soudha,” DyCM Shivakumar had told reporters.