Karnataka election

Karnataka: Tussle over portfolios between Congress and JD(S) has kept Cabinet from being formed

Home, revenue, finance and geology and mines are the ministries being keenly sought after by both parties, said Congress officials.

It has been a week since HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) took oath on May 23 as Karnataka chief minister and G Parameshwara of the Congress as deputy chief minister. But the rest of the state cabinet has not been appointed as the allies are vying for lucrative, revenue-generating portfolios.

The problem has become so acute that Kumaraswamy on Monday said that, given the alliance arrangement, he was at the mercy of the Congress to proceed.

When the results of the state election were declared earlier this month, no party had an absolute majority in the 224-member house. Though the Bharatiya Janata Party won 104 seats, it was unable to cobble together the numbers to form a government. The Congress with 78 seats and the Janata Dal (Secular) with 37 decided to stake their claim together. Though the Congress has more seats, it has given the chief minister’s position to its ally.

But negotiations for the rest of the cabinet portfolios are proving to be more contentious. Congress officials said that finance, revenue, public works and geology and mines have become the most sought-after ministries, with leaders of both parties attempting to drive hard bargains for them.

A former minister who requested anonymity said that state Congress leaders were of the firm opinion that if the Janata Dal (Secular) wants the finance portfolio, it should be willing to trade home, public works and geology and mines to the Congress.

According to the leader, the Janata Dal (Secular) has been told in no uncertain terms that it was important for the Congress to show its own members that the alliance is one of equals. The Congress needs to show that it is not playing second fiddle despite to its ally since it has twice the number of MLAs that the JD (S) has.

“It has been decided that we will get 22 of the 34 ministries,” the leader said. “But these 22 cannot be vague ones.”

Internally, there are differences in the Congress regarding the finance ministry. While one group, which apparently includes Deputy Chief Minister Parameshwara, feels that the finance portfolio is crucial for public relations because most government welfare schemes have to be sanctioned by this minister, others feel that finance is only an “approval ministry” and has nothing to offer on its own.

The crucial ministries have been identified as public works, which has the largest budget in the state; geology and mines, which controls crucial resources including sand; and revenue, which has hold on land. This apart, the Congress wants rural development, education and backward classes welfare. Home also assumes importance because it controls internal security.

Meanwhile, the Janata Dal (Secular) feels that since it will have only 12 members in the cabinet, giving away crucial portfolios to the Congress will increase chances of dissent. “The BJP is waiting for a chance,” a senior leader said on condition of anonymity. “We cannot take the risk of alienating our MLAs.”

Initially, there was a suggestion that the tenure of the chief minister should be shared between the allies over the government’s five-year term, but this has been left for future discussions. Now, the Janata Dal (Secular) is proposing a model by which ministries could be rotated. “One party in the alliance cannot say that it will keep all ministries that will give good name to the government,” the leader said.

Striking a balance

The Congress is looking to strike a balance between caste and regions in allocating ministries. It wants at least two substantial portfolios allotted to Lingayats, a community that the party feels is angry following the controversy over the party’s decision to give it minority religion status.

The problem of Cabinet formation has been accentuated by the fact that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are abroad on a personal trip. “They had asked the state party unit to sort out all differences before they return in a few days,” a Congress official said.

From the Congress side, Parameshwara, former chief minister Siddaramaiah, senior leader DK Shivakumar and KC Venugopal are holding discussions with Kumaraswamy on the portfolios. Officials said once the portfolio distribution is decided, the parties will have to confirm the names of the ministers, which, given the competition within, may also prove to be a tough proposition.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.