Trouble in Congress-JD(S) paradise? Cabinet formation delayed as partners haggle over key portfolios

The fractured mandate that Karnataka election 2018 results threw up have not only added drama but also prolonged the process of Cabinet formation, as deliberations continue over key ministerial berths. When Congress managed to stitch an alliance with Janata Dal (Secular) and HD Kumaraswamy took oath as Chief Minister, did appear to a few that decision making would not be easy. That is now becoming evident as both parties are yet to come to an agreement over portfolio distribution. Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamys recent statement that he was at the mercy of the Congress party also failed to break the ice as difference of opinions over issues such as farm loan waiver and the key Finance portfolio appear to have dampened the bonhomie. The delay in allocating portfolios, on the other hand, has provided a shot in the arm to the BJP, which settled for the Opposition benches just 7 short of a majority. The allocation of ministerial portfolios in Karnataka has been reportedly put on hold after Congress President Rahul Gandhi accompanied UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi for a medical check-up abroad. Rahul is likely to return this week and will have his task cut out. According to reports, both JD(S) and Congress have been staking claim to the Finance portfolio. Sources said the two partners want key portfolios of Finance and Home, besides other departments like Public Works Department (PWD), Power, Mining, Water Resources, Irrigation and Urban Development. However, a senior Congress leader asserted on Monday after the two coalition partners held deliberations over the issue that the Congress and the JD(S) are likely to seal the deal over portfolio allocation in Karnataka within a day or two, Top leaders of the two parties including Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara met here at the residence of Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad in New Delhi. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and AICC in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka K C Venugopal were also present during the meeting. We held discussions with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and other leaders of our ally in Karnataka. We are likely to finalise the portfolio-sharing issue within a day or two. We will be meeting again this evening and hold further discussions, Venugopal told PTI. After the meeting, Kumaraswamy exuded confidence that an amicable power-sharing arrangement will be worked out.