Kamal Nath, Gehlot take oath, Chhattisgarh next: United Oppn, some missing
Kamal Nath has taken oath as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister in the presence of top Congress and opposition leaders flown to state capital Bhopal from Jaipur where they had watched Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot take charge.Updated: Dec 17, 2018 17:06 IST
Kamal Nath has taken oath as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister in the presence of top Congress and opposition leaders flown to state capital Bhopal from Jaipur where they had watched Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot take charge.
Rahul Gandhi is accompanying this team of political leaders as they zip across three state capitals today to attend the oath ceremony of Congress chief ministers, an occasion that his party is also using to showcase opposition unity. A host of opposition leaders are attending the show of strength in three states, but the absentee list is grabbing some attention too.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav have skipped the three oath ceremonies, though they are supporting the new Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not attending either, but has deputed her representative unlike the other two leaders.
Chartered planes have flown those attending from Rajasthan’s Jaipur, where Gehlot took oath, to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. It will later take a short flight to Chhattisgarh where Bhupesh Baghel will take oath as Chhattisgarh chief minister.
Among those who are on the Congress’s guest list are Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, his Karnataka counterpart HD Kumaraswamy, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, All India Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi, Janata Dal (Secular) president HD Deve Gowda, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, Loktantrik Janta Dal chief Sharad Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president MK Stalin and leader Kanimozhi, a Rajasthan Congress leader, familiar with the development, said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is attending all three ceremonies as will former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and several other senior party leaders.
The Karnataka oath ceremony earlier this year of HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal Secular, backed by the Congress, was seen as the big bang start of an opposition effort to unite to take on the BJP in next year’s national election. Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee had attended that event and their absence at the Congress events today has raised questions on the strength of that unity.
Opposition leaders came together on Sunday too, at a rally in Chennai, where MK Stalin of key ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) proposed that Rahul Gandhi be projected as the prime ministerial candidate of a joint opposition, saying he has the “ability to defeat the fascist BJP”.
The Congress has said it prefers to leave the leadership issue of an anti-BJP alliance for after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Last week, the Congress posted its best electoral performance since the 2014 general elections. It snatched Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the BJP. While the party swept Chhattisgarh, it just made the majority mark in Rajasthan and fell short by a whisker in Madhya Pradesh. The BSP and Samajwadi Party offered to fill the gap to keep out the BJP, which was not far behind.