Bengaluru: A week after taking office, the Congress-led government in Karnataka, under the leadership of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, expanded its cabinet. As part of the expansion, 24 legislators were inducted and sworn in as ministers on Saturday.
Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot administered them oath of office and secrecy at the Raj Bhawan.
The Karnataka government can have 34 ministers. Ten of them, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy D K Shivakumar, were sworn in on May 20.
Security was stepped up in and around the Raj Bhavan in view of the crowd that would gather to witness the ceremony.
These ministers 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 an 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.
There were very rare instances of all the sanctioned ministerial positions being filled in Karnataka, a Congress office-bearer said.
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 Nagendra.
During the oath taking ceremony, supporters of those MLAs who were denied ministerial positions such as M Krishnappa, a four-time MLA, 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, 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 K H 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 K C 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 BJP as a distant second, which won 66 seats while the JD(S) stood third with 19 seats.
(With PTI inputs)