Congress faces tough task in finalising ministerial berths; The process is expected to be completed before the weekend

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Chief Minister Siddaramaiah now faces a challenging task in constituting the Ministry and allocating portfolios. The process is expected to be completed before the weekend.

Sources in the Congress told The Hindu that the party high command was aware of the serious implications that any error in the selection of Ministers could cause and that it was taking steps to prevent such a fallout which could impact the State unit of the party in the long run.

The State unit of the Congress has been a divided house for long and there is the likelihood that divisions may again come to the fore after the constitution of the Ministry.

Mr. Siddaramaiah arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday to hold consultations with senior leaders, including AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

The exercise of constituting the Ministry is expected to be a long-drawn affair and vacancies are likely to be maintained to ensure disgruntled leaders, if any, are accommodated at a later stage. The optimum strength of the Council of Ministers is 34 (including the Chief Minister) as recommended by the Administrative Reforms Commission (15 per cent of the strength of the Assembly).

The Congress has to accommodate at least a few MLCs to strike a balance between the two Houses.

While the Chief Minister has taken with him a list of legislators whom he would like to accommodate in the Ministry, several top leaders have recommended or are in the process of recommending the names of some legislators.

Party general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Madhusudan Mistry, apart from Union Ministers from the State who also enjoy considerable clout in the party headquarters, is also expected to submit some names. It is a problem of plenty.

It is said that the Congress leaders are discussing the pros and cons of whether the party should opt for a two-tier Ministry with seniors in the Cabinet and freshers accommodated as Ministers of State.

Karnataka has not had a two-tier Ministry for over a decade and, in the recent years, particularly during the tenure of the Bharatiya Janata Party, even chairpersons of government boards and corporations were granted Cabinet status.

Mr. Siddaramaiah had said that the constitution of the Ministry would be done in consultation with the high command.

This has resulted in nearly half of the Congress legislators camping in New Delhi over the past few days knowing that it is party high command that calls the shots.

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