This Article is From Dec 16, 2018

Top Opposition Leaders Invited As Congress Takes Charge In 3 States

The Congress has invited leaders from across the political spectrum for the ceremonies, expected to turn into a show of opposition unity ahead of 2019.

Top Opposition Leaders Invited As Congress Takes Charge In 3 States

Congress leader Kamal Nath will take oath as chief minister at Lal Parade ground in Bhopal on Monday.

New Delhi:

Three senior Congress leaders will take oath as chief ministers of three previously BJP-ruled states on Monday. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will be flying to Jaipur, Bhopal and possibly Raipur for the back-to-back ceremonies. Besides, chief ministers of all Congress-ruled state, the Congress has invited leaders from across the political spectrum for the ceremonies that are expected to turn into a mega show of opposition unity ahead of the national elections next year.

While Ashok Gehlot is all set to take charge of Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot will be his deputy, the Congress announced on Friday. Both will take oath at 10.30 am on the grounds of Albert Hall Museum, an iconic 19th century building in Jaipur. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge are likely to be there.

In Madhya Pradesh, senior Congress leader Kamal Nath will be sworn in at Lal Parade ground around 1.30 pm.

The party will announce the name of the next chief minister of Chhattisgarh by noon today, but the swearing in has been planned for 4.30 pm on Monday.

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Rahul Gandhi tweeted a photo with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot on Friday. 

Those expected at the ceremony in Jaipur include Janata Dal (Secular) chief and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah and Telugu Desam Party's N Chandrababu Naidu.

Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tejashwi Yadav, DMK's MK Stalin and Kanimozhi, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's Hemant Soren, Janata Vikas Morcha's Babulal Marandi and All India United Democratic Front leader Badruddin Ajmal have also been invited, Congress sources said.

Uttar Pradesh's rival-turned-allies, Akhilesh Yadav and Dalit powerhouse Mayawati, who shared the stage for Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's swearing-in in May, are expected to be in Bhopal for Kamal Nath's oath-taking, which will draw massive crowds, the party said.

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Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's swearing-in ceremony in May was a show of opposition unity. (File)

"I will take oath alone," Mr Nath told PTI suggesting that aspirants seeking ministerial berths will have to wait for some more time.

Kamal Nath will be heading a Congress government in the state after a huge gap of 15 years. Digvijaya Singh ruled the state till 2003 when the BJP defeated the Congress and Uma Bharti became the chief minister.

While Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal is yet to confirm his presence at any of the events, his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee said she will send her representative.

The Congress would want an encore of the ceremony when HD Kumaraswamy took charge of Karnataka and several political heavyweights, including chief ministers Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Chandrababu Naidu along with Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, sat next to each other.

The Congress ended the ruling BJP's winning streak in India's heartland, winning Chhattisgarh and emerging as the largest party in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, in state elections that are seen as the semi-finals before the Lok Sabha polls which are a few months away.

Telangana, India's newest state, voted back K Chandrashekar Rao's TRS and in Mizoram, the Congress was ousted by the tribal Mizo National Front.

"We accept the people's mandate with humility," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after all results were in.

A day before the results for the five states were announced, 21 non-BJP parties had got together for the mega meeting called by Chandrababu Naidu, who has taken up the challenging task of bringing the parties on the same page to take on the BJP next year. The Congress and TDP have recently ended their long-standing rivalry and are encouraging others to forget the past for the future.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose rivalry with the Congress is as bitter as the one with the BJP, had also attended the meeting. Last month, the farmers' protest in Delhi had brought Rahul Gandhi and Mr Kejriwal on the same stage for the first time.