HD Kumaraswamy met Rahul Gandhi on Monday to discuss government formation
BENGALURU: HD Kumaraswamy was sworn in as Chief Minister and his deputy G Parameshwara took oath today evening at a mega-gathering that served as a giant display of opposition unity ahead of 2019 general elections.The 58-year-old Janata Dal Secular leader shifted the venue of the swearing-in ceremony from a stadium to the steps of the Karnataka's iconic Vidhan Souda complex for the event that JDS leaders suggest, could become a platform for various opposition parties to unite. At least four chief ministers and many regional satraps will be there but two notable absentees, Telangana's K Chandrasekhar Rao and Odisha's Naveen Patnaik, does point to the challenges that remain for any united front.
Here's your 10-point cheatsheet on the Karnataka swearing-in:
The swearing-in ceremony is the first time Uttar Pradesh's bitter rival-turned-allies, Akhilesh Yadav and Dalit powerhouse Mayawati are sharing the stage. As Mayawati reached the venue, Akhilesh Yadav welcomed her and later, waved to the cheering crowds. They will sit next to each other through the ceremony. Mayawati's BSP, which had helped Samajwadi Party candidates win two Lok Sabha by-elections in Uttar Pradesh earlier, has promised to continue the alliance for next year's Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Kumaraswamy's JDS and the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress too were rivals till the election results came in. The Congress had even dubbed the JDS as the "B-team' of the BJP.
But Rahul Gandhi and Mr Kumaraswamy quickly stitched up an alliance last week as the BJP was set to emerge as the single largest party with 104 of the 222 seats. Mr Kumaraswamy received the invite to form the government after an acrimonious power tussle with the BJP's BS Yeddyurappa who quit last Saturday minutes before a floor test in the assembly that he was going to lose.
The other ministers and their portfolios will be announced only after Mr Kumaraswamy faces the trust vote later this week, possibility on Thursday.
The post of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker will be evenly divided - the Speaker will be from the Congress, his deputy will be from the Janata Dal United. The Congress has named Ramesh Kumar for the job, the JD(S) is yet to name its candidate.
The two alliances, JDS leaders hope, would inspire other opposition parties that have fought each other earlier to unite. But there are other rivals within the opposition camp. Trinamool Congress Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Left parties that have been incessantly targeting each other back home in Bengal.
Mr Yechury, who took a swipe at Ms Banerjee for welcoming democracy in Karnataka but "murdering democracy" in Bengal, said people were free to form "fronts" before elections. "But, the government would be formed based on a post-poll alliance," Mr Yechury said, underlining that his party would seek to defeat both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.
Apart from Ms Banerjee, the other chief ministers expected to be at Bengaluru today are Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are also to be present.
Chief Ministers of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao and Odisha Naveen Patnaik are also said to be uncomfortable at the prospect of joining hands with the Congress, JDS leaders, who had once played along with Mr Chandrasekhar Rao's concept of a non-BJP, non-Congress front, said any pre-poll without the congress would not be effective challenge to the BJP, given that it was the only opposition party with presence in all states.