Bengaluru: Cynics may dismiss it as just a photo op but the coming together of Opposition leaders on a single platform is a loaded political message to the BJP, that there is now more to the polity than just a Modi narrative. Neither HDK, nor his father H D Deve Gowda, were the stars of the swearing in ceremony in Bengaluru. Rather, under the arc lights was the large anti-BJP rainbow formulation, from which is likely to emanate the ‘oust Modi’ chorus ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Among those present were one time enemies, many time foes and constant name callers, until the recent past. So, it was a pleasant sight to see arch rivals Mamata Banerjee and Sitaram Yechury shake hands, even if they studiously avoided each other thereafter. The new found bonhomie between Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, albeit a little forced, too was apparent. They greeted each other warmly, waved to the crowd and sat next to each other. But the most invigorating was the meeting between Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi. A beaming Mayawati held a smiling Sonia’s hand during the entire duration they were together. Rahul too was part of this inner circle and the three waved to the crowd, even as Akhilesh Yadav lurked in the background.
Others present at the venue were Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal, Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala and Nara-yanaswamy of Pudu-cherry. Sharad Yadav, Lalu’s son Tejeswi and CPI’s D Raja were also in attendance with Tejeswi dutifully touching Sonia’s feet. NCP chief Sharad Pawar was accorded a special welcome and greeted warmly by Sonia Gandhi.
Strangely, Telangana CM K Chandrasekhara Rao skipped the ceremony citing prior engagements. He had come on Tuesday and wished Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda. But sources say he did not want to be seen on the dais with his ‘enemies’ – the Congress and Chandrababu Naidu. Mamata, it was apparent to all, was going to be the political adhesive that will hold the brigade together. Like a ‘sutradhar’ she had an arm around Mayawati’s shoulder and pulled in Chandrababu Naidu with the other, much to the delight of the crowd.
But in the show of unity, the fault lines were also too obvious. So, despite the heart-warming handshake, Mamata avoided being closeted with Yechury. At one stage, she vanished from the stage and the JD(S) leaders had to mount a search for her. When found, she was taken chaperoned and ensconced near Sonia Gandhi, far away from Yechury. After the swearing-in ceremony, the entire opposition stood together, raised hands skywards; the symbolism of it was important even though it will be sometime before the contours of the ‘coalition’ are defined. Both the chemistry and the arithmetic of such an aggregation is important as a combined opposition can tilt the scales in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, at least.
“Curious to see what follows,” tweeted actor-politician Kamal Haasan, who was also on the crowded stage. Will fight general Election together: Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said on Wednesday that the JD(S) will fight the 2019 Lok Sabha election with the Congress and expressed confidence that the coalition government formed by the two parties will last the full five years in Karnataka. He also predicted that there will be a major political change in the country in 2019.