Karnataka ministry expansion Saturday

Bangalore, May 17 (IANS) Four days after taking over as Karnataka chief minister, Congress leader Siddaramaiah will expand his ministry Saturday amid demands that “tainted” legislators be kept out as the party wrested power from the BJP on an anti-corruption plank.

From Congress Lok Sabha member A.H. Vishwanath from Mysore to freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy, 95, many have been strident in their call to Siddaramaiah to induct into the ministry only party legislators with clean image.

Vishwananth has been telling reporters for the last few days that only legislators with “clean image” should be made ministers.

Doreswamy has in a letter to Siddaramaiah urged him to keep out the “tainted” from the ministry.

Doreswamy was among the first group of people that Siddaramaiah called on in Bangalore after taking oath as the chief minister. Others he met included well-known writers such as U.R. Anantha Murthy, Girish Karnad and Chandrashekar Kambar, all Jnanpith Award winners.

Siddaramaiah, who was sworn-in May 13, was in New Delhi from Wednesday for talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders to finalise the names of legislators to be made ministers.

He is expected back in Bangalore late Friday or early Saturday as he flew directly to Mysore, about 130 km from here, from New Delhi for some personal work.

Soon after taking oath, Siddaramaiah had told reporters here that his ministry would have people with “clean image”.

On Saturday, around 20 legislators are expected to be sworn-in by Governor H.R. Bhardwaj at a function in Raj Bhavan in the city centre.

Under the consitutional arrangement, Karnataka can have a 34-member ministry, including the chief minister – that is 15 percent of the strength of the assembly which has 225-members, including one nominated.

The Congress has won 121 seats of the 223 for which polls were held May 5 and results announced May 8.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, whose maiden rule since 2008 was marred by sex, corruption and illegal land deal scandals and dissidence, suffered a crushing defeat, and the party won just 40 seats.

The third major political party, the Janata Dal-Secular, also won 40 seats while the remaining seats were taken by small parties and Independents.

Voting for one seat, where polling was countermanded following a candidate’s death, will take place later this month.

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