Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab chief minister, Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Banda Singh Bahadur, war memorial, Chappar Chiri, news, hindustantimes
As Parkash Singh Badal took oath as Punjab chief minister for the fifth time, leaders of political parties allied to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could be seen mingling with each other at Banda Singh Bahadur war memorial at Chappar Chirri, 15 km from Chandigarh.
Badal is Shiromani Akali Dal patron and has an alliance with the BJP. The coalition has been returned to power in the state for a second consecutive term.
Invitations for the oath-taking ceremony were sent to leaders cutting across parties and alliance lines. Interestingly, leaders of Trinamool Congress, including Union minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy, West Bengal tourism minister Rachhpal Singh and another party leader KD Singh attended the ceremony. Trinamool Congress is a UPA ally but there has been no smooth sailing of TC with the Congress for the past some time.
Though invitation was extended to West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee to attend the ceremony, she had expressed her inability but deputed party leaders for the same. These leaders arrived late and also left the venue immediately after the ceremony was over but were seen in conversation with BJP top leaders including president Nitin Gadkari, LK Advani and Rajnath Singh.
The visit of these TC leaders and their meeting with BJP leaders is significant, especially when Mamta had sent a low-key leader of her party to a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a few days ago.
Union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises Praful Patel, a leader of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which is an ally of UPA, also attended the oath ceremony and talked to BJP leaders.
Invitation was also extended to NCP president Sharad Pawar and his daughter MP Supriya Sule but both were unable to make it to the ceremony, as they were busy with railway budget. Supriya is close to Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Sukhbir Singh Badal.