The tussle for the Karnataka portfolio has been settled with Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah handling the Finance department and deputy CM and Siddaramaiah‘s main rival, DK Shivakumar in control of Bengaluru. The finance department will be key towards fulfilling the Congress’s promised five guarantees. The city of Bengaluru is the state’s main city and employment generator.
The announcement of the portfolios for the 34 ministers came after much deliberation, especially due to the discontent of Ramalinga Reddy, the senior Bengaluru, congress leader over being assigned only to transport and not the central city portfolio. On Sunday, Sivakumar reportedly visited Reddy and convinced him to accept the transport department along with the Muzrai department. Reddy was reportedly averse towards the transport portfolio as he had already been transport minister for four years.
The finance portfolio was yet again claimed by Siddaramaiah, who holds the record of presenting nine state budgets as finance minister. Vital for managing the funds of the state, especially in light of the increasing debt and also in meeting the pre-election promises made by Congress. They include Rs.2000 allowance for women, unemployment allowance and free power.
Other than the finance department, Siddaramaiah also holds cabinet affairs, State infrastructure development and the Department of Personnel and administrative reforms which is responsible for government postings, information, technology, biotechnology, intelligence and information.
Shivakumar, the deputy CM has occupied aside from Bengaluru city development, covering the city’s civic agencies like the BBMP (city council), BMRDA (town planning) BDA (residential area development), BMRCL (the city Metro rail Corporation) and BWSSB (water supply); the plum portfolio of irrigation.
The Bengaluru portfolio is considered crucial because of crores of contracts being at stake. Contracts worth thousands of crores of rupees are cooperative in the city for infrastructural development. The highest amount of tax revenues in the state is also generated by Bengaluru on account of IT services and other services industries in the city and it thereby forms the backbone of the state economy. The irrigation or water resources department also involves contracts worth multiple crores.
Another crucial ministry, industries, went to MB Patil, who was seeking the irrigation portfolio. G Parameshwara, ex-Karnataka PCC chief and scheduled caste leader occupied the Home Ministry. Congress veteran and Siddaramaiah associate KJ George has occupied the energy portfolio which was aspired for by Shivakumar. The energy department is crucial for implementing the promised 200 units of free power to households.
Congress veteran HK Patil will be the new minister of Law. Lakshmi Hebbalkar, who is the only woman minister, has been assigned to the Women and Child Development ministry together with the Department for Disabled and senior citizens development.
The Health and family welfare Ministry went to 2nd time Minister, Dinesh Gundu Rao. This department has gained increased importance since the Covid 19 pandemic. Priyank Kharge, son of AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge has been assigned the rural development and Panchayati Raj which is also an important portfolio.
The post of the new school education minister went to Madhu Bangarappa, son of former chief minister of Karnataka, S Bangarappa while three-time MLA, Dr MC Sudhakar will be in charge of the higher education department.