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Karnataka: Eye on 2019, Congress cedes key Karnataka posts to JD(S) | India News

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BENGALURU/NEW DELHI: After protracted negotiations, Congress conceded a larger space to the Janata Dal (Secular) in the Karnataka government but formalised a pre-poll alliance with the Vokkaliga outfit for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, co-opting the southern state into its national policy to contain the Narendra Modi-led BJP.

Congress and JD(S) announced the power-sharing deal for the H D Kumaraswamy government on Friday, releasing the portfolios to be shared between the partners. Key ministries like finance, energy, tourism, education and transport went to JD(S), leaving many Congress functionaries, including D K Shivakumar, who had set eyes on the energy ministry, baffled and upset.

But the magnanimity on Congress’s part (with 78+2 MLAs) appeared to flow from the same reason it had agreed to extend unconditional support and chief ministership to JD(S) with just 38 MLAs after the assembly election results on June 15 — stop BJP.

The bigger partner got the ministries of home, health, revenue, agriculture and irrigation but showed that it conceded to specific demands from JD(S). For instance, the intelligence department has gone to the CM, hived off from the home department. Congress got home in lieu of finance which JD(S) was not willing to part with. Congress got 22 portfolios and the JD(S) 12.

Announcing the deal with JD(S), Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said, “We want to take forward this new coalition to the next level by contesting the Lok Sabha elections as allies. All senior leaders of both parties will decide on the seat-sharing formula in the coming days.” The LS deal in Karnataka could seriously dent the party’s strength in the state as it will have to concede seats to JD(S), unlike in the past when it contested all 28 seats itself. This will perhaps be the first time that Congress will contest LS polls in Karnataka in alliance with another party.

Kumaraswamy said the two parties had come together to fight “communal forces” and this would pave the way for realising the “grand alliance” being envisaged by many regional parties. “The bypoll results on Thursday have shown that BJP can be defeated if all like-minded parties come together. We will work on it and firm up a force against BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” he said.

The ministers, yet to be picked, will take oath at 2pm on June 6.

Updated: June 1, 2018 — 7:42 pm

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