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JD(S) keen on immediate expansion of Ministry

By S. Rajendran

BANGALORE, NOV. 2. The legislature party meeting of the Janata Dal (Secular) is believed to have been convened here on Thursday by senior party leaders to send a message to the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, that they will not remain silent if the inordinate delay in the expansion of the Ministry is stretched further. However, they also want to reassure the Chief Minister that they will not be party to any attempt at destabilising the coalition.

Sources in the coalition partners, the Congress and Janata Dal (S), told The Hindu on Tuesday that the Chief Minister, who was, perhaps, aware of the developments within the Janata Dal (S), had promised to expand the Ministry before Deepavali (November 11). The Chief Minister was now fully aware that he could no longer postpone the expansion.

It is being stated that the Chief Minister has not revealed the number of ministers that he plans to induct. In all likelihood, Mr. Dharam Singh will go in for a partial expansion and add no more than 16 Ministers. At least two of the Congressmen to be accommodated in the ministry will be former Ministers against whom the Janata Dal (S) have reservations.

The Janata Dal (S) has, however, said that the Ministry should be fully expanded and 11 members from each party inducted. It has refrained from giving its list of legislators to be inducted as it first wanted a commitment from the Congress that it will adhere to the initial agreement which was reached in the presence of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and others leaders.

The meeting of the JD (S) legislature party that was initially expected to be stormy was likely to end up with the adoption of three resolutions. An important resolution will pertain to a demand (a veiled threat) that the Chief Minister stick to the Maharashtra pattern of power sharing and that he immediately obtain the resignation of the chairmen of boards and corporations. The chairmanship of all the boards and corporations should thereafter be shared on an equal basis with the Janata Dal (S).

Mr. Dharam Singh, who is in Gulbarga today, is expected to return to Bangalore on Thursday and hold discussions with the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, and the Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, before leaving for New Delhi on Friday or Saturday. He is likely to obtain the clearance for the list of ministers to be inducted by Sunday. The Congress and the Janata Dal (S) have been talking of the expansion for the past four months and also levelled charges against each other over the delay.

After the assurance that the party will be revamped, only the State unit president of the party (N. Thippanna) has been appointed. An assurance will also be held out that all office-bearers will be appointed in a short time.

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