The Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition government in Karnataka on Friday inducted two independent lawmakers to its cabinet on Friday, apparently in an attempt to provide stability after the parties' dismal performance in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. The move comes after speculation that disgruntled legislators of the parties might switch over to the BJP.
R Shankar and H Nagesh, the two independents, were sworn in as cabinet-ranked ministers by Governor Vajubhai Vala today.
Congress leader and minister DK Shivakumar told NDTV that R Shankar would be joining the party.
"My party high command and the Chief Minister have decided that two MLAs who have been elected - one independently and one on a party symbol, will be accommodated (in the cabinet)."
On being asked if R Shankar would join the party, he said," That was the condition. All our leaders spoke to him...he will have to join the party."
The BJP had emerged as the single-largest part in last year's assembly polls. The Congress and JDS entered into a post-poll alliance to keep the BJP from forming a government. Since then, they have been running a wobbly alliance government in which differences have come on the surface often.
In January, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had threatened to quit as he reacted furiously to questions on lawmakers of alliance partner Congress criticising him.
The Congress and JDS' dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections hasn't helped the alliance much. Both the parties won a seat each, with the BJP sweeping polls in Karnataka with 25 of 28 seats in the bag.
After the election results, the Congress has seen considerable dissidence with legislators like Roshan Baig, Ramalinga Reddy and Satish Jarkiholi openly critical or in defiance of the party. Both JDS and Congress leaders have questioned the worth of the coalition.
The BJP, accused by the Congress-JDS alliance of planning to lure away their legislators, have assured it would do nothing to destabilise the government, but instead wait for it to collapse on its own.
"Two MLAs have been taken into the Cabinet. Wait for another two,three days to see what will happen. More than 20 Congress, JDS MLAs aspired for ministership. They will come out openly," BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa told NDTV.
There are many others in the Congress and the JDS who would be hoping for inducements in lieu of their loyalty. It would be an ongoing challenge to keep everyone happy.
DK Shivakumar said his government had to accommodate people who are loyal to the parties.
"We have to address the people who are more loyal than those who raise their voice....See in politics, there is no end to desire. It is the desire of everyone...even a first time legislator wants to become a chief minister," he said.