A section of senior ministers representing the backward communities in the Siddaramiah government is back to its usual ‘dinner meetings’, barely a fortnight after the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls concluded in Karnataka.

One such important meeting was held early last week in Bengaluru. It was hosted by senior party leader, and Public Works minister, Satish Jarkiholi.

This meeting appeared to be a continuation of other such meetings that began on the eve of last year’s Assembly elections. The meetings had continued even after the posts of Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister were announced. They were even held in March this year.

The meetings assumed importance as these were attended by senior leaders of the backward and Dalit communities. Most of the participants went public with their demand for at least three more Deputy Chief Ministers posts. At present it is occupied by Vokkaliga leader and party strongman, D. K. Shivakumar.

On paper, last week’s get-together was to encourage interaction between senior Congress leaders from the backward and Dalit communities, as the host, Satish Jarkiholi, explained. According to him, the discussions revolved around the impact of the outcome of the Parliamentary polls.

Among the prominent invitees to the dinner was the state Home Minister, G. Parameshwara, a prominent Dalit leader. This meeting has sparked off speculation as it indicates the growing restlessness among the backward and Dalit leaders who feel that the party is not giving them their due.

Apart from Jarkiholi, other prominent leaders like H. C. Mahadevappa, Social Welfare minister, and Cooperation Minister, K. N. Rajanna, have also been raising their voice on this issue.

According to them, the present Cabinet is not representative enough when it comes to the inclusion of senior backward class leaders to high positions. Rajanna has not been very reticent while making his demand.

He has been reiterating that the BJP ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, had more than one Dy. CM. Accordingly, Karnataka too should follow the same practice. He got immediate support from Mahadevappa who said: “Rajanna is a senior minister. He must have found merit in the need for multiple Dy. Chief Ministers”

In this context, associates of Satish Jarkiholi claim that while the Congress party won all the 15 ST reserved seats in the assembly polls, their leader was not compensated adequately for his work and efforts. Besides,they argued that the Congress had done equally well in wooing the Dalit voters and ,therefore, Parameshwara, too should be rewarded with the post of Dy CM.


Parameshwara , on his part, is known to wear his ambition on his sleeves. In an interview to a local daily early last year, he said like other senior leaders, he too had ambitions of becoming Chief Minister,though finally it would depend on the party’s central leadership.

In this context, it is important to highlight the rivalry between Jarkiholi and Shivakumar. The two obviously do not get along. Witness, therefore, the manner in which Shivakumar allegedly prevented Jarkiholi from taking a group of his confidantes to the Mysuru Dussehra last year.

Jarkiholi retaliated by ignoring Shivakumar’s presence in Belagavi when the Dy. Chief Minister went to that district. The Jarkiholi family virtually calls the shots in Belagavi.

The two do not see eye to eye even though Shivakumar seems to have received a lot of importance from the Gandhi family. His services have been used by the party in other states to curb defections of MLAs.

Jarkiholi is trying his best to secure one of the Dy. CMs posts, if only to clip Shivakumar’s wings in the state. At the same time, he is worried that in the event the Congress does well in the 2024 Parliamentary polls in Karnataka, Shivakumar’s stock as the state’s party chief, will rise. This could make him more powerful in the party.

In a related development , even CM Siddaramaiah has been interacting with Parameshwara regularly while supporting the demand for a Dalit CM. The support assumes importance, going by the speculation that the Congress could change the CM after Siddaramaiah completes 30 months in office, while rewarding Shivakumar with that post for the remaining period.

Meanwhile, the Lingayats who supported the Congress during the 2023 polls, are not far behind in claiming “their share” of rewards for helping the party get a majority. According to the Lingayat Mahasabha, it was thanks to the community’s support that the Congress bagged 34 seats in the polls. This was compared to the 13 it had managed in the earlier elections.

The Lingayats, who comprise nearly 17 percent of the population, have been urging the Congress to acknowledge their contribution to its win by giving one Dy. CM post to it. Especially as the community had ditched the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2023, after the party had ‘humiliated’ their leader and former CM minister, B. S. Yediyurappa, as well as another stalwart, Jagdish Shettar.

Even as Siddaramaiah tried to strike a balance in the prevailing environment, he was stung by his Maharashtra counterpart, Eknath Shinde’s claim this week that “the Congress government in Karnataka will be toppled soon”. Siddaramaiah hit out at Shinde while asserting that all was well with his party and “none of its members were for sale”.

Reacting to the developments, the BJP’s state chief, B. Vijayendra said that his party “would not indulge in any toppling game”. Aswath Narayan, another senior BJP leader claimed that the Congress government would fall on its own considering the growing dissension within the party for the CM and Dy. CM’s posts.

A Congress leader, however, claimed that it would not come as a surprise if more dinner and allied meetings were held by party leaders from different castes in the coming days, seeking more senior posts in the cabinet,” if only to neutralise Shivakumar’s growing influence.