Kumaraswamy takes oath as non-BJP opposition puts up unity show
Bengaluru, May 23 : H.D. Kumaraswamy was on Wednesday sworn in as the 25th Chief Minister of Karnataka at the head of a JD-S-Congress coalition government here in a ceremony that brought together leaders of anti-BJP parties on a single platform exactly a year ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The event showcased rare scenes of bonhomie between leaders including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, BSP supremo Mayawati, Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala), V. Narayanasamy (Puducherry), Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI MP D. Raja, RLD's Ajit Singh and RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav and former union minister Sharad Yadav.
As a few thousand cadres of the two parties cheered the leaders, Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, who represents the Congress in the coalition. Both took the oath in Kannada in the name of God.
The swearing in ceremony in the forecourt of the imposing Vidhan Saudha took place as dark clouds loomed over the venue after rain played spoil sport to the cadres of the JD-S and Congress, especially from the Mysuru region, who had come to witness the event.
In a House of 222, the Congress with 78 members stitched a post poll coalition with JD-S (37) to keep the BJP out. The coalition also has the support of a BSP MLA, an independent MLA and a legislator from a local party. Kumaraswamy first became Chief Minister with BJP's support in 2006. He has become the 25th Chief Minister of the state.
None from the Bharatiya Janata Party attended the swearing in ceremony. Former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said they were boycotting the event as BJP was observing a "black day" across the state.
Last week, immediately after the election results were out, Yeddyurappa was sworn in as Chief Minister but he quit in three days after failing to muster majority support in the Assembly.
The JD-S-Congress coalition is expected to convene a short session of the Assembly to prove Kumaraswamy's majority in the House.
Shortly before the 4.30 p.m. schedule for the swearing in, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda was the first to reach the site after which leaders and Chief Ministers from various parties trooped in.
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi came together and both were seen talking animatedly with Mayawati. Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi held each other's arms as Rahul watched them. Then it was the turn of Mamata Banerjee to approach Mayawati. Finally the leaders posed for a photograph holding each other's hands.
Naidu, who quit the NDA a few months ago, was seen talking to Mamata Banerjee and both congratulated Kumaraswamy and shook hands with him.
While Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did not attend the ceremony, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekar Rao came to Bengaluru on Tuesday and met both Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy. DMK leader M.K. Stalin skipped the event as he rushed to Thoothukudi where 11 persons died in police firing in the anti-Sterlite protest.
Kumaraswamy later described the event to the reporters a "historic moment" saying it brought a record number of national and regional leaders, Chief Ministers and others on a single platform and united them as never before.
Ahead of the event, Mamata Banerjee and Chandrababu Naidu said that their participation in the ceremony was to strengthen the coming together of regional parties and they would not allow any obstacles to come in the way of these efforts.
"In future we will work together to protect and promote national interests. We are here to strengthen all the regional parties," Naidu said.
Kumaraswamy's mother Chennamma, wife Anita, three brothers and two sisters, son Nikhil and a few other close relatives were present and posed for a family picture with him.
About 300 VIPs and guests were treated to lavish refreshments in the banquet hall of the Vidhan Soudha, which houses the state legislature and the secretariat.