Most of the opposition parties, including the Congress that was in power for 10 years, skipped the first expansion of PM Narendra Modi’s council of ministers on Sunday — days before the onset of reform oriented winter session of Parliament. Many of them claimed that they received the invite very late — only on Sunday morning.
Both Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were conspicuous by their absence as were leaders of prominent opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress, the Left parties, the BSP and the AIADMK.
Sonia and Rahul had attended Modi’s swearing-in as the prime minister in May this year. Both had received an invitation for Sunday function. An official at Manmohan Singh’s residence said that the invite was received on Sunday morning but the former PM could not attend the function because of other engagements.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi downplayed the absence of top Congress leaders from the expansion and said there was “no plan to boycott” the reshuffle. “I was invited for the ceremony but was in Karnataka,” former law minister Veerappa Moily said, adding that there was no instruction not to attend.
Suggesting that there was no “sinister plan” behind giving the ceremony a miss, another Congress leader said that in the past BJP leaders have not attended the expansion during the 10-years of the UPA government.
Digvijaya Singh took the expansion debate to another level saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not require an expansion as he was one man Cabinet. “Why so much excitement about Cabinet expansion? Modi doesn’t require a Cabinet. His is a one man cabinet! Ask Rajnath Ji and Gadkari Ji!?” Digvijaya tweeted.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury also downplayed non-participation of Left leaders saying it was too short a notice for leaders to attend the swearing in ceremony. Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said he was not aware if his party was invited or not.