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Congress's balancing act: Oppressed classes given lion's share in K'taka Cabinet

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | May 20, 2023 10:55 AM

BENGALURU: After denying them a Dalit Deputy Chief Minister, the Congress has given the oppressed community a lion's share in the Karnataka state Cabinet in the first list.

Among the eight ministers to be sworn in, three belong to Scheduled Castes while one hails from Scheduled Tribe.

No Vokkaliga leader has been named in the first list as D.K. Shivakumar was given the post of DyCM. He will also continue as the state party President. Lingayats, who dominated the BJP Cabinet, will have one representative.

Prominent leader from Dalit community, Dr G. Parameshwara, who vehemently staked claim for DyCM post and warned the party to recognise the demand before the community responds, has been allotted a Cabinet berth. His name figures first in the list.

K.H. Muniyappa, former union minister who batted for a Dalit Chief Minister and 'then for DyCM post, has also been accomodated. There were rumours before the election that Muniyappa is all set to switch over to the BJP.

The grand-old-party managed to rein in the situation. Muniyappa won from Devanahalli seat and his daughter Roopa Shashidhar won from KGF seat. He lobbied for the Cabinet post for his daughter, but the party has decided to include him in the Cabinet.

AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge's son and Chittarpur MLA Priyank Kharge, who worked as a Minister for IT during Siddaramaiah's first stint as Chief Minister, has also been given Cabinet post.

Party sources explained that it is the gesture of the party towards senior Kharge's prominent role in the election strategy and campaigning. Kharge's "I am Bhoomiputra" claim against PM Modi's publicity blitzkrieg struck a chord with the people of the state.

Satish Jarkiholi, the power house of Congress in north Karnataka and mass leader of oppressed classes and OBC communities has been given a Cabinet berth. Satish Jarkiholi is known for his movement against Hindu blind beliefs and superstitions.

Jarkiholi's claim that the origin of the word 'Hindu' was Persian and meant "slave" had created a stir making it a topic of national debate.

Notably, Satish Jarkiholi celebrates his birthdays in burial grounds and makes it a point to carry out important works at inauspicious times. He is the brother of Ramesh Jarkiholi, one of the important leaders in Karnataka BJP and an accused in the alleged sex CD scandal.

The family is alleged to be running a republic in Belagavi district. He won from Yamakanamardi reserve seat with a margin of 57,211 votes. He polled 60 per cent of votes.

M.B. Patil, one of the prominent Lingayat leaders from north Karnataka, has also been allotted the cabinet post. Resourceful Patil is a blue-eyed boy of Siddaramaiah and launched the movement for separate religion for Lingayats.

Most senior Congressman Ramalinga Reddy from Bengaluru has been awarded the coveted berth. The Reddy community urged the high command and wrote a letter seeking the DyCM post to him. As per his supporters, he is more senior and has won more elections than Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar.

BJP had taken it as a challenge to defeat him and worked on all strategies. They managed to defeat his daughter Sowmya Reddy in the Jayanagar seat by a slim margin of 16 votes.

Siddaramaiah has managed to secure a cabinet post for his staunch supporter B.Z. Zameer Ahmad Khan who carried out "Siddaramaiah CM candidate" campaign throughout the last five years much to the chagrin of Shivakumar.

Sources claimed that Shivakumar tried his level best to keep Zameer out of the cabinet, but failed. Zameer is a mass leader and represents Chamarajpet seat in Bengaluru.

Senior Congress leader K.J. George, who held the portfolio of Home during the tenure of Siddaramaiah last time, has also been included in the first list on the high command's directions.

The Congress has tried to accommodate all communities and religions in the first phase, giving prominence to Dalits and oppressed classes.

It is to be seen how Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities who used to get lion's share and preferential treatment over others in Karnataka whenever BJP, JD(S) governments were formed, react to the development.


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