As Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee Skip Oaths, Congress Explains: 10 Points
Ashok Gehlot was sworn-in as Rajasthan Chief Minister in Jaipur this morning, Kamal Nath took the oath in Madhya Pradesh's capital Bhopal this afternoon, followed by Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh's Raipur.
Opposition leaders at the Congress swearing-in ceremony in Chhattisgarh.
Bhopal: The Congress took charge today in three heartland states that it seized from the ruling BJP in recent state elections. The Chief Ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have taken oath in events serving as a mega gathering of opposition parties. The Congress hired an aircraft and buses to ferry the leaders from one state capital to the other. But the gathering has lost much of its sheen, with three of the top opposition leaders, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, skipping it. Kamal Nath, the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, said both Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee have "genuine reasons" for their absence.
Here are the top 10 developments in this big story:
The round of oath ceremonies started at the Albert hall of Jaipur, where Ashok Gehlot took oath as the Chief Minister, with Sachin Pilot as his deputy. The selection was preceded by nearly 48 hours of tussle where Mr Gehlot had the support of of a majority of lawmakers. But Mr Pilot, who had rejuvenated the party and led them over the last five years, believed he had a legitimate claim over the top post.
In Bhopal, Kamal Nath, who was chosen to lead the government by Rahul Gandhi after a tense race for the top post, signed the files for farm loan waiver - the big electoral promise of the party -- soon after taking oath.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, the other contender, who came on board with Mr Gandhi's decision, said like his father Madhavrao Scindia, he had "no hunger" for the top post.
There have been allegations from eye-witnesses that Kamal Nath was seen leading a mob near a gurdwara in Delhi. He has not been named in any police case and the Nanavati Commission investigating the riots gave him the benefit of the doubt.
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his party leader Praful Patel, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu, DMK leader M K Stalin and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav are among those who attended the events.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has sent party lawmaker Dinesh Trivedi to attend the Madhya Pradesh event. Kamal Nath told NDTV that Ms Banerjee said she was observing her mother's death anniversary today. Asked whether he was carrying any message for the function, Mr Trivedi told PTI, "There is no message as such. My going there is a message itself".
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati's absence was even more noticed, since she helped the Congress touch majority in Madhya Pradesh, saying she wanted to keep the BJP out. "She had a genuine reason, she told me she had pulled a nerve," Kamal Nath told NDTV. Before the elections, amid failed efforts at forging an alliance, the Uttar Pradesh politician had called the Congress, like the BJP, a "snake".
That the patchy show comes a day after ally DMK's efforts to pitch Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as the opposition's 2019 prime ministerial candidate ran into resistance, will also cheer the BJP.