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State gets education minister after 8-month wait

BENGALURU

After an eight month wait, the state finally has a full-time primary and secondary education minister. Gubbi legislator S R Srinivas was given the charge of the department on Monday. The two independents who were inducted into chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s cabinet 11 days ago, were also given their portfolios on Monday.

R Shankar, as expected, got municipal administration, which was earlier held by late C S Shivalli, whereas H Nagesh has been appointed as the small-scale industries minister. The latter portfolio was previously with Srinivas. The primary and secondary education department didn’t have a full-time minister after BSP legislator N Mahesh resigned last year stating he needed time to build the party.

Kumaraswamy started overseeing the department. Given the department’s huge role and responsibility, he was under pressure to appoint a dedicated minister. Around 80 lakh students study in private and government schools. The sector employs nearly 1 lakh teaching and non-teaching staff members.

Outgoing JD(S) state president A H Vishwanath, who once held the portfolio, had criticised Kumaraswamy for not having a fulltime minister. Nagesh had set his sights on the energy and primary and secondary education departments, but Kumaraswamy was not ready to part with either.

Four rounds of discussions failed to end the impasse.

According to a source in the JD(S), Kumaraswamy was not keen to give the education responsibility to an independent MLA as the department has undertaken infrastructure projects worth over Rs 500 crore. “He wanted to retain the ministry, but the public outcry forced him to appoint a JD(S) MLA for the job,” the source said.

At one point, he reportedly offered the Kannada and cultural department to Nagesh. Congress leader DK Shivakumar holds that portfolio. The Congress rejected the proposal, saying Nagesh should get a portfolio from the JD(S) share.

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