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Karnataka Chief Minister-designate H D Kumaraswamy presents a bouquet to Congress president Rahul Gandhi as former Congress president Sonia Gandhi looks on during a meeting at the latter’s residence in New Delhi on Monday

Kumaraswamy meets Sonia, Rahul on govt formation


NEW DELHI: Chief Minister-designate H D Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal-Secular on Monday promised a stable government in Karnataka and a “long-term relationship” with the Congress, as he invited top Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to his swearing-in in Bengaluru on May 23.

According to highly-placed sources, the Congress-JD-S combine will have a coordination committee in place to run their government in Karnataka and the assembly Speaker will be from the Congress.

The coordination committee will have five-six members who will ensure smooth functioning of the coalition government.

The top leadership of the two parties decided to make a new beginning leaving behind the past, when they had come together and fallen apart, and vowed to have “a long-term relationship”.

The sources said the Congress leadership would take a call on who would be its deputy chief minister on Tuesday, when the leaders of the two parties would meet in Bangaluru to work out modalities of power sharing in the southern state.

The sources add that only a few ministers were likely to take oath initially on May 23 along with the Chief Minister and other modalities would be worked out in the coming days. However, the nominations for the Speaker’s post would be filed the same day and the Congress has staked its claim to the post, it being the larger party.

Kumaraswamy was in the national capital to express his gratitude to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for supporting the formation of a JD-S-led government in Karnataka.

He also invited Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for his swearing-in.

According to the sources, the Congress has mooted two deputy chief ministers for the numerically strong party in order to strike a balance with the JD-S but the regional party is believed to be not in favour of this proposal.

KPCC chief G Parameshwara is among the frontrunners for the deputy chief minister’s post.

Kumaraswamy, who will be sworn in as Chief Minister on Wednesday for the second time in 12 years, flew into the capital on Monday afternoon and began his engagements with a meeting with pre-poll ally BSP chief Mayawati. BSP bagged one seat.

During his 20-minute meeting with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Kumaraswamy is understood to have discussed the nitty-gritty of cabinet formation and the number of ministerial berths the Congress and the JD-S would get.

The meeting took place at Rahul Gandhi’s Tughlak Lane residence.

“There is no bargain. We will cordially work out things. We must work together. I am here to take their (Congress leaders) advice,” said Kumaraswamy when asked by media persons ahead of the meeting how the Congress and the JD-S will address the issue of ministry formation.

“We are going to give a stable government. All these issues are not yet discussed. We have not discussed any future course of action.”

After the meeting, Kumaraswamy told reporters he had invited both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for the swearing-in ceremony in Bengaluru and they have agreed to come. K C Venugopal, AICC in-charge of Karnataka, was also present at the meeting.

Kumaraswamy is expected to take the floor test within 24 hours after being sworn in. Both Congress and JD-S MLAs will remain confined to their hotels till the floor test, according to reports from Bengaluru.

Meanwhile, in a development that could leave the Congress red-faced in Karnataka, its MLA Shivaram Hebbar dismissed as “fake” an audio clip released by the party to allege that the BJP offered money and ministerial berth to him for cross-voting during the floor test in the assembly.

The Congress had released three audio tapes in the run-up to the floor test, claiming that the BJP leaders were trying to “poach” the party MLAs by offering ‘blandishments’ so that the Yeddyurappa government was saved.

“This is not my wife’s voice and she has not received any such calls. The audio tape is fake. I condemn it,” Hebbar wrote in a Facebook post.

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