Bengaluru: The Congress government in Karnataka on Saturday expanded its Cabinet by inducting 24 ministers, including just one woman, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, and veteran legislator HK Patil, thus filling all 34 ministerial positions a week after the party assumed power in the state. Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 24 ministers, including nine first-timers B Nagendra, Madhu Bangarappa, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, Mankal Vaidya, Dr MC Sudhakar, KN Rajanna, NS Boseraju, Suresha BS, and K Venkatesh.
The 24 ministers who took oath today include 23 MLAs and the Congress high command's surprise candidate N S Boseraju, who is neither an MLA nor an MLC.
"Boseraju, a former MLA and MLC, is the All India Congress Committee secretary. Hailing from Raichur, he is a committed Congress worker. His name was cleared by the Congress high command yesterday," a Congress leader told PTI.
"Though there are three women MLAs, Roopakala Shashidhar, Kaneez Fatima and Laxmi Hebbalkar, the party chose to give the Cabinet berth only to Hebbalkar," a Congress activist, who was also a ticket aspirant, complained.
There are very rare instances of all sanctioned ministerial positions being filled in Karnataka, a Congress office-bearer said. The Karnataka government can have 34 ministers.
Ten of them, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar, were sworn in on May 20.
Amid tight security, the swearing in took place at Raj Bhavan.
MLAs H K Patil, Krishna Byregowda, N Cheluvarayaswamy, K Venkatesh, H C Mahadevappa, Congress working president Eshwar Khandre and former state Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao are among those who took oath.
Others in the list are: Kyathasandra N Rajanna, Sharanabasappa Darshanapur, Shivanand Patil, Ramappa Balappa Timmapur, S S Mallikarjun, Shivaraj Sangappa Tangadagi, Sharanaprakash Rudrappa Patil, Mankal Vaidya, Laxmi Hebbalkar, Rahim Khan, D Sudhakar, Santosh Lad, N S Boseraju, Suresha B S, Madhu Bangarappa, M C Sudhakar and B Nage-ndra.
During the oath-taking ceremony, supporters of those MLAs who were denied ministerial positions such as M Krishnappa, a four-time legislator who was also a minister in the previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah, raised slogans and held placards demanding cabinet berths for their leaders.
Laxmi Hebbalkar, Madhu Bangarappa, D Sudhakar, Cheluvarayaswamy, Mankul Vaidya and M C Sudhakar are close to Shivakumar, according to Congress sources.
K H Muniyappa, who was a central minister during the UPA government, contested in his maiden Assembly election this time and has also been inducted as a minister in the Karnataka government.
Laxmi Hebbalkar, Madhu Bangarappa, D Sudhakar, Cheluvaraya Swami, Mankul Vaidya and M C Sudhakar are close to Shivakumar, according to Congress sources.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has struck a balance by giving caste and region-wise representation along with giving due respect to senior as well as junior MLAs, an official statement said on Friday night.
It also said the cabinet will have eight Lingayats. Within them, different sub-sects of the community have been given representation.
There will be five Vokkaligas, including Shivakumar, the statement said.
The cabinet will have nine Scheduled Caste ministers, it said.
The portfolios have not been allotted yet.
State minister KH Muniyappa said the portfolios will be announced by evening.
Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar had been in Delhi for the past three days and had held several rounds of discussions with the party leadership.
The names of the 24 ministerial candidates were decided after hours of hectic deliberations between Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar and the top central leaders, including AICC general secretaries KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former party chief Rahul Gandhi gave the final nod to the list.
Earlier, the two Karnataka leaders also met Sonia Gandhi, for the first time after government formation in the state.
Differences between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar had emerged over names of probable ministers but these were sorted out during the discussions, the sources said.
The Congress stormed into the Vidhana Soudha by winning 135 seats in the 224-member assembly leaving the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party as a distant second, which won 66 seats while the Janata Dal-Secular stood third with 19 seats.—PTI