Siddaramaiah expands ministry, leaves out ‘mining-tainted’ aspirants

Bangalore, May 18 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah Saturday inducted 28 members into his five-day-old ministry, keeping out two strong but mining-scam hit aspirants for cabinet berths.

The two are former working president of the state Congress D.K. Shivakumar from Kanakapura, about 55 km from here, and mining baron Anil Lad from iron-ore rich Bellary district, around 300km north of Bangalore.

Anil’s cousin Santosh Lad, who is also into mining, however made it to the ministry.

It is not clear whether Shivakumar and Anil Lad will be accommodated in the next expansion as Siddaramaiah has left five slots in the ministry vacant.

Karnataka can have a 34-member ministry including the chief minister as per the constitutional arrangement.

Shivakumar and the Lad family have been fighting charges of illegal mining.

Siddaramaiah and the Congress were under pressure from civil society groups to exclude them as well as all party legislators facing serious corruption charges out of the ministry.

Supporters of Shivakumar staged protests in Kanakapura and nearby places protesting denial of ministerial berth to him.

Lad, a Congress Rajya Sabha member who won from Bellary City, had threatened to quit the assembly if denied a ministerial berth.

Of the 28 sworn-in Satuday 20 are cabinet ministers and eight ministers of state.

The cabinet ministers are: R.V. Deshpande, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, T.B. Jayachandra, Ramalinga Reddy, Prakash Hukkeri, Qamarul Islam, H.K. Patil, V. Srinivas Prasad, H.C. Mahadevappa, H.S. Mahadeva Prasad, K.J. George, Vinay Kumar Sorake, Ramanath Rai, Baburao Chinchanasur, M.H. Ambareesh, Shivaraj Thangadagi, U.T. Khader, M.B. Patil, Satish Jharkiholi and H. Anjaneya.

The ministers of state are: Dinesh Gundu Rao, Krishna Byregowda, S.P. Rudrappa Patil, K. Abhay Chandra Jail, Umashree (one name), T. Parameshwar Naik, Santosh Lad, and Kimmane Ratnakara.

Umashree, a noted Kannada film actor, is the lone woman in the ministry, formed after the Congress wrested power from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the assembly poll held May 5.

Governor H.R. Bhardwaj administered the oath of office and secrecy in batches at Raj Bhavan in city centre as supporters of the new ministers loudly cheered them.

Siddaramaiah is expected to allot the portfolios to the ministers later in the day.

Siddaramaiah had taken oath alone May 13 and spent nearly three days in New Delhi, along with state Congress chief G. Parameshwara, to finalise the names of party legislators to be made ministers as there were large number of aspirants.

The Congress has won 121 seats of the 223 for which polls were held May 5 and results announced May 8. The assembly has 225-members including one nominated to represent the Anglo-Indian community.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 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 BJP candidate’s death, will take place later this month.

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