Days after forming the government in Karnataka, the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) combine has announced a pre-poll alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
At the press conference on Friday, 1 June, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal also announced which cabinet berths have been allotted to which party, with the JD(S) getting the all-important Finance portfolio and the Congress being allotted the Home portfolio.
While the JD(S) has been allocated 12 portfolios, the Congress has got 22.
At the press conference, Kumaraswamy also announced that the Cabinet expansion will take place at 2 pm on Wednesday, 6 June.
Speaking about the decision to get into a pre-poll alliance for the 2019 elections, Kumaraswamy asserted that Karnataka has become "the place that will change the 2019 elections".
The JD(S) leader also brought up the bypoll results declared on Thursday, in which the BJP suffered a significant setback, saying:
The people of the country have blessed yesterday’s elections (bypolls). The result shows that there will be an alternative government in 2019. This is the first stage where we are going to strengthen the alliance.HD Kumaraswamy
Contours of the Cong-JD(S) Alliance
Talking about the contours of the Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka, Venugopal said a common agenda for governance including promises from the both the parties' manifestos will be released soon.
A coalition coordination and monitoring committee, which will be in charge of clearing appointments to statutory boards and corporations, is also in the process of being set up. While two-thirds of the posts in the committee will be for Congress members, one-third would be for the JD(S), it was announced.
Moreover, the alliance will have two designated spokespersons, one from the Congress and one from the JD(S), who will be in charge of speaking to the media.
Notably, the decision over cabinet formation, which was delayed due to difference of opinion between both parties, comes nine days after Kumaraswamy took oath as chief minister on 23 May, along with his deputy G Parameshwara.
However, there is no word yet on the names of the ministers who will be taking charge of the portfolios that were announced.
Cabinet Expansion Delayed as Governor Not in Town
Although leaders of both parties wanted the Cabinet expansion to be made official at the earliest, the process has been be delayed as Governor Vajubhai Vala would not be in the state from Sunday, 3 June, to Tuesday, 5 June.
On Friday afternoon, Kumaraswamy and Parameshwara had met the governor to request him to allow Cabinet expansion on Sunday, 3 June. “We want to expand the cabinet on Sunday, but the governor is busy. We are told that he will return on 5 June,” said Kumaraswamy.
According to sources, the request was turned down by Governor Vala. As the governor was expected to return to Bengaluru on 5 June, the date of Cabinet expansion has been fixed as 6 June.
Over the past week, leaders of the Congress and the JD(S) had held several rounds of meetings in New Delhi and Bengaluru to finalise the list of ministers.
Soon after forming the coalition, both parties had agreed on a berth-sharing policy where the Congress would get 22 seats and the JD(S) would get 12.
The process of sharing portfolios was delayed due to differences among the leaders, and it was only on Thursday, 31 May, that both parties reached an agreement.
Following this, Venugopal and senior JD(S) leader Danish Ali flew to Bengaluru and held a round of final talks with local leaders, before finalising the list of ministers.