New Delhi: The swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister-designate H.D. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday will be used as a “show of strength” of the opposition parties ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in a possible line up against the BJP. But Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao decided to give the ceremony a miss and flew to Bengaluru on Tuesday to meet Kumaraswamy, apparently to avoid being seen in the company of Congress leaders.
Prominent leaders of around a dozen political parties including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, DMK leader M.K. Stalin, RLD chief Ajit Singh, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan of Makkal Needhi Maiam are all set to share the dais on Wednesday.
Besides these political heavy weights, Chief Ministers Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala), Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal) and Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) are expected to attend the oath-taking ceremony. Striking a different path, Chandrasekhara Rao — who mooted the idea of an anti-BJP, anti-Congress federal front — will not be present.
The Chief Minister’s office in Hyderabad confirmed that Rao will not be able to attend the ceremony due to some official engagements. However, informed sources said Rao did not want to share the dias with Congress leaders and thus met Kumaraswamy a day earlier.
Rao has held discussions with some opposition leaders including Banerjee over the formation of the federal front.
The effort of uniting the opposition parties gained momentum after Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party cast aside years of differences to come together to defeat the BJP in two crucial Lok Sabha bypolls in Uttar Pradesh – in seats that had been held by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. Kumaraswamy was in Delhi on Monday where he met Congress leaders and discussed “long term relationship on mutual trust” of the newly-formed coalition and vowed to give a joint contest to the BJP in Karnataka in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Responding to the efforts of the opposition, BJP President Amit Shah claimed that the atmosphere in the country is in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA would retain power with bigger majority than 2014. “What will Mamata Banerjee do in Karnataka and what will Kumaraswamy do in Bengal,” Shah said in response to a question on the efforts of Congress-led opposition and added that all these political parties were also against the BJP during the 2014 elections.
In an anti-climax to the hectic political developments since the split verdict in May 12 Karanataka Assembly polls, the BJP lost power in Karnataka as Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned on Saturday just before the trust vote, as he did not have the numbers to prove his majority. His resignation paved the way for the formation of a Congress-Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) government headed by Kumaraswamy.
The May election in 222 constituencies of the total 224 threw up a hung House, with no party securing majority. Polls in two constituencies were deferred. The BJP won 104 seats, the Congress 78, the JD-S 37, and one each was bagged by the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party, and an Independent.