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Dharam Singh, Siddaramaiah sworn in

By S. Rajendran



COALITION IN PLACE: N. Dharam Singh of the Congress (left) and Siddaramaiah of the JD(S) soon after being sworn in Karnataka Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister by the Governor, T.N. Chaturvedi (centre), in Bangalore on Friday. — AP

BANGALORE, MAY 28. The first-ever coalition Government in Karnataka was ushered in today, after a two-week-long exercise in government formation. The Congress leader, Dharam Singh Narayan Singh, and the State president of the Janata Dal (Secular), Siddaramaiah, were sworn in as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister at the Raj Bhavan.

The swearing-in took place about an hour after the Governor, T.N. Chaturvedi, accepted the claim staked by the Congress and the JD(S) that their combine enjoyed majority support in the new Assembly. The Governor administered the oath of office and secrecy to the two leaders at a 10-minute ceremony. The JD(S) leader, H.D. Deve Gowda, was not present; he was in New Delhi.

Sources in the JD(S) and the Congress said that a full-fledged Ministry would be constituted in the next few days. Matters, including representation to various castes and regions, had to be attended to.

The JD(S) leaders said their party would not need much time to prepare the list of Ministers. But Congress sources said they would need time as the list had to be approved by the party president, Sonia Gandhi.

The JD(S) having conceded the Chief Minister's post to the Congress, it is likely to enjoy a major share of the important portfolios, under the `Maharashtra model' of governance the two parties have agreed to.

The leaders of the Congress and the JD(S) took the early morning flight to Bangalore today after finalising the tie-up in New Delhi on Thursday. The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president, B. Janardhana Poojary, Mr. Dharam Singh, Mr. Siddaramaiah, P.G.R. Sindhia, M.P. Prakash and C. Narayanaswamy met the Governor this morning.

Mr. Dharam Singh, who received a congratulatory call from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, soon after the swearing-in, said he was confident of sorting out vexed inter-State issues. The focus of the Government would be on the welfare of the rural masses, and the provision of drinking water and employment. The focus on information technology and biotechnology would continue.

No BJP leader attended the swearing-in.

Ruling party sources said the two parties would formulate a common minimum programme, on which the Government's policies would be based.

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