In the wake of the Karnataka government being in place for six months, a political chess game is unfolding. KN Rajanna, closely associated with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and serving as Cooperation Minister in the government, has proposed the appointment of three more Deputy Chief Ministers in Karnataka. Currently, DK Shivakumar holds the position of Deputy Chief Minister, as per the power-sharing formula.
Demand for More Deputy Chief Ministers
Cooperation Minister KN Rajanna has communicated his request to the Congress high command via a letter, advocating for the appointment of three additional Deputy Chief Ministers. His rationale is centered on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, where the absence of equitable power distribution within the government could potentially result in electoral losses.
Previous Advocacy for Deputy Chief Ministers
Prior to Rajanna’s proposal, BK Hariprasad had also called for the appointment of two Deputy Chief Ministers. Notably, Deputy CM DK Shivakumar has refrained from commenting on Rajanna’s letter, and his brother, MP DK Suresh, has left the matter to Rajanna’s discretion.
Priyank, a minister in the Karnataka government and the son of Mallikarjun Kharge, has affirmed that there is internal democracy in the party, allowing members to express their demands freely. He added that many Congress members in Karnataka are qualified to assume the role of Chief Minister.
Rajanna’s Formula for Deputy Chief Ministers
In his letter addressed to Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajanna has suggested that Siddaramaiah, hailing from a backward class, should continue as the Chief Minister. Meanwhile, Shivakumar, from the Vokkaliga community, presently holds the Deputy CM post. Rajanna’s proposal aims to ensure that Dalit, minority, and Lingayat communities are represented in the government by appointing them as Deputy Chief Ministers.
Rajanna contends that making this adjustment would prove advantageous in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He also suggested that Shivkumar could simultaneously hold the position of State President along with Deputy CM responsibilities.
In his letter, Rajanna emphasized the significant voter turnout from the minority and Dalit communities in favor of the Congress, citing data from a survey agency, CSDS-Lokniti.
Hariprasad’s Proposal for Two Deputy Chief Ministers
Previously, senior Congress leader BK Hariprasad had advocated for the appointment of two Deputy Chief Ministers alongside Shivakumar. Hariprasad’s argument centered on the need for better representation of tribal and Dalit communities. He had even suggested two names for Deputy CM roles: Satish Jarkiholi and G Parameshwar.
Hariprasad’s proposal was grounded in a desire to maintain a balanced representation within the government.
Deputy Chief Minister: A Political Leverage
The Constitution of India, under Article 164, outlines the formation of state governments, emphasizing the role of the Chief Minister. While the Constitution does not explicitly mention the position of Deputy Chief Minister, the Chief Minister has the authority to recommend a Deputy Chief Minister, who is typically considered the most senior minister in the government.
Currently, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of Deputy Chief Ministers, with five appointed by Jagan Mohan Reddy. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra each have two Deputy Chief Ministers. Karnataka itself introduced the position of Deputy Chief Minister, with SM Krishna holding the role in the government led by Veerappa Moily. Political experts view the Deputy Chief Minister position as a significant tool for wielding power and settling political equations.
Congress’s Power-Sharing Formula in Karnataka
After winning 135 seats in Karnataka, the Congress high command set a power-sharing formula. According to this arrangement, Siddaramaiah was designated as Chief Minister, while DK Shivakumar assumed the role of Deputy Chief Minister and State President. Additionally, UT Khadar, from the minority community, was appointed Speaker of the Assembly. The Karnataka cabinet was structured to represent Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Dalits, Muslims, and other communities, ensuring a diverse representation.
The Onset of Internal Political Struggles?
The recent developments have raised questions within Karnataka’s political landscape regarding potential internal conflicts within the Congress party. Hariprasad’s criticism of the Chief Minister and Rajanna’s letter concerning the Deputy Chief Minister positions have fueled speculations of internal strife.
Hariprasad’s verbal attack on the Chief Minister during a rally resulted in a notice from the Congress high command. Rajanna’s letter, emerging just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, has stirred debates regarding its appropriateness.
Furthermore, Siddaramaiah’s recent dinner engagements with key ministers have sparked discussions in political circles, adding to the complexity of the situation. These developments suggest that the political landscape in Karnataka may be entering a phase of internal maneuvering and negotiations.