On Friday, 15 September, K N Rajanna, Karnataka's Cooperation Minister suggested the idea of having three more deputy chief ministers in the state.
This can create a lot of trouble for the ruling Congress party and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as the grand old party (GOP) is facing a lot of internal dissent in recent times.
According to reports, Rajanna has informed the media of his plans to write to the Congress leadership touting the idea of appointing more deputy chief ministers, particularly so from certain communities which would help them, going forward.
Rajanna stated that the three deputy chief ministers should be from the SC/ST, Veerashaiva-Lingayat and the minority communities.
As of now, Karnataka has one deputy chief minister after Siddaramaiah appointed D K Shivakumar as his deputy. Shivakumar is from the Vokkaliga community and also happens to be the head of the Karnataka Congress.
"We're headed towards the Lok Sabha polls. We need votes of all communities. Right now, we have an OBC chief minister and one from a forward community as deputy chief minister. Veerashaiva-Lingayats, SC/STs and minorities supported the Congress and that's why the party won (in the Assembly polls). So, the high command should make deputy CMs from these communities," Rajanna has been quoted as saying by Deccan Herald.
Earlier this year, the Congress had decided and assured Shivakumar that he will be 'the only' deputy chief minister.
Rajanna is a close aide to the chief minister, and the proposal to include more deputy chief ministers is being seen as a measure by the Siddaramaiah camp to "keep Shivakumar under check".
Having more deputy chief ministers can bring a balance to the disproportionate power distribution in the hierarchy of the Karnataka Cabinet, and will most certainly undermine Shivakumar's influence.
A few days ago, a senior Congress leader B K Hariprasad suggested that Satish Jarkiholi or G Parameshwara must have been made the deputy chief minister.
Hariprasad is currently an MLC, and has been critical of the chief minister in the recent past — to an extent where several Congress leaders had to distance themselves from his statements of dissent.
Right after the assembly election in May, Home Minister G Parameshwara rooted for the idea of a Dalit as the deputy chief minister.
Parameshwara, himself belonging to the Dalit community, has previously served as a deputy chief minister under Siddaramaiah during his first term as the chief minister. He warned the party of "trouble" if they did not do so.
Soon after, leaders belonging to the minority community started demanding a seat at the table by asking for a deputy chief minister post to be given to a Muslim.
Shivakumar has chosen not to respond to Rajanna's statement, instead, his brother and Bangalore Rural MP D K Suresh took a jibe at the latter by saying, "Ask Rajanna because he's the one running the government".
Rajanna had pitched the chief minister post for Siddaramaiah right after the election had concluded in the state.
Commenting on Rajanna's demand, IT-BT Minister Priyank Kharge said that there is no such proposal before the high command as of this moment.
He concluded by stating that everyone is free to write letters and "nothing stops us from conveying our ideas to the high command". He reassured the media that there is internal democracy within the Congress party.
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