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JD(S), Congress in tug of war over finance portfolio in Karnataka

BENGALURU: The tussle between the ruling coalition partners — Congress and JD(S) — in Karnataka continued over portfolio allocation on Monday, with finance being the major bone of contention, even though chief minister HD Kumaraswamy claimed that the issue would be resolved by Tuesday.

During a three-hour meeting at Ghulam Nabi Azad’s residence in New Delhi, Kumaraswamy reportedly told Congress leaders that it has been the convention in coalition governments in Karnataka to allow the junior partner to keep the finance portfolio. When Congress leaders argued on why it had the right to stake claim to the key portfolio, the CM sought time, saying he would consult JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda.

During the Dharam Singh-led Congress-JD(S) government in 2004, the finance department was with then deputy CM Siddaramaiah, and in 2006 when Kumaraswamy was CM of the JD(S)-BJP coalition, the portfolio was with then deputy CM BS Yeddyurappa. Kumaraswamy reportedly told that the formula was based on the model of Maharashtra coalition governments.

Apart from finance, a few other key portfolios, such as energy, water resources and PWD, were also discussed. JD(S) also wants to keep these departments as HD Revanna, the CM’s brother, is keen on PWD and energy. Congress leader DK Shivakumar, too, is said to be keen on the energy portfolio which he had held in the previous Siddaramaiah government.

“Congress wants all the key portfolios, leaving animal husbandry, labour, fisheries, youth services, women and child welfare to us. It is not fair,” JD(S) sources said. “A decision will be taken after Congress leaders consult Rahul Gandhi, who is abroad,” Kumaraswamy said after the meeting.

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