Chief minister Siddaramaiah at the party high command's diktat expanded his seven-month old ministry by inducting the two as cabinet ministers. Both Shiva Kumar and Baig were administered the oath of office and secrecy by governor H R Bhardwaj in Raj Bhavan.
While the developments have evoked only negative responses, Siddaramaiah himself is said to be unhappy on the issue. The CM is said to have shared his unhappiness with some senior ministers and legislators, whom he met prior to the swearing-in. He is reported to have said the expansion has given an opportunity for the opposition parties and his detractors to attack him.
The CM on the sidelines of swearing-in ceremony, however, denied the developments had given rise to discontent in the party. "Both should have become ministers long back,'' he added. Governor said the expansion has made him happy. "If the captain is good, then everyone in the cabinet will also be good,'' he maintained.
Both Kumar and Baig, though being senior in the party had been kept out of the cabinet when the ministry was formed in May as they were facing charges of alleged illegal mining and land grabbing respectively. On the same count, Siddaramaiah had dropped Santosh Lad from the cabinet in November as the Supreme court appointed Central Empowered Committee had closed down his mine for violating the mining rules.
Freedom fighter H S Doreswamy has questioned Siddaramaiah's move to induct Kumar and Baig to the cabinet when there are considered as "tainted" as they are facing several charges. Doreswamy, who had written a letter when Siddaramaiah was forming the government to keep out tainted persons on Wednesday, said he would take up the issue again with the CM and take take up the cause fighting against the tainted ministers. Jnanpith award recipient U R Ananthamurthy said: "I like Siddaramaiah very much. The Congress high command seems to not learnt any lessons even after losing the state assembly elections. Corruption is an issue now.''
While Kumar is facing charges of causing loss to state-run Mysore Mineral Lts in related to purchase and export of iron ore, Baig is alleged to have illegally sold a plot of government land, which is being heard in the Lokayukta court.
The swear-in ceremony was relatively low-key affair and was held in the Raj Bhavan's banquet hall instead of normal venue - the glass house. However, supporters of both Kumar and Baig had turned out fairly good numbers and cheered by bursting crackers as both took oath in the name of God. While Kumar was seen in white silk shirt and dhoti, Baig sported his usual white safari with fur cap.
Police had horrid time to control the crowd and second line Congress leaders who wanted to gain an entry to Raj Bhavan. The police restricted entry to the venue as the banquet hall's seating capacity was less than 150.
City police appeared to be over-doing their job particularly Bangalore central DCP Ravikanthe Gowda as he restricted entry to VIPs and media. He literally had fisticuff with Congress functionaries and many times had verbal dual with media and others.