Cabinet to Be Expanded After Consulting Sonia: Siddaramaiah

Getting a booster from the Assembly by-polls outcome, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said he would expand his cabinet after talking to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

"The main issue before us is (cabinet) expansion. We will fill all four vacancies in consultation with Congress High Command," he told reporters here after the Congress victory in Bellary and Chikkodi-Sadalga Assembly by-elections.

In the by-polls held for three seats on August 21, Congress wrested Bellary Rural from BJP which managed to retain Shikaripura, in an outcome that has strengthened the position of Chief Minister at least in the near future.

Asked if he has any plans to reshuffle the cabinet by dropping underperforming ministers, he said "You are asking me the same question in a different way, and my answer will be the same. Will not keep any cabinet berths vacant."

To a query, he said he would decide on his date of visit to Delhi after attending the coordination committee meeting of the party here tomorrow. "AICC General Secretary incharge of Karnataka Digvijay Singh is coming tomorrow. After the meeting with him, we will decide when to visit Delhi," he said.

Asked whether KPCC President G Parameshwara, who is reportedly eyeing Deputy Chief Minister's post, would be inducted into the ministry, Siddaramaiah said, "These are party matters. Can we discuss such things in public? It cannot be discussed in the streets."

Commenting on the by-poll outcome in different states, he said the results showed BJP is beatable if the "secular forces" unite, which was evident in Bihar.

"The results also showed that BJP is not a force to reckon with. The united secular front can defeat BJP, which was reflected in Bihar bypoll results," he said.

Asked if in that case Congress would join hands with JDS in near future, Siddaramaiah said unlike in Bihar, situation in Karnataka is different and hence there was no need for an alliance with them. "JDS is not a secular party. Who told you it is a secular party. They go along with NDA. It is not a secular party," he said.

Asked if the positive results would silence his opponents within the party, Siddaramaiah said Congress was united and there was coordination between him and Parameshwara.

"Who said there are differences in our party. It is totally united. There is a perfect coordination among all workers and leaders and also between me and Parameshwara," he said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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