Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will not be able to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow because he has an oath-taking event of his own to preside over, news agency PTI quoted an official release from his office as saying.
"The newly elected members of the 16th Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) will take oath tomorrow. As leader of the House, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will be present on the occasion. So, he will not be able to visit Delhi tomorrow to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister and his council of ministers," the communication read.
"The Chief Minister conveys his good wishes to the Prime Minister and his council of ministers," it added.
Naveen Patnaik, who is also the president of the Biju Janata Dal in Odisha, took oath of office as the Odisha Chief Minister for the fifth time in a row on Wednesday. PTI quoted officials as saying that although the state government had extended invitations to PM Modi, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and all newly elected BJP representatives in Odisha, former Odisha Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang was the lone BJP leader seen at the event.
The Biju Janata Dal had withstood a rising challenge from the BJP to secure a massive majority of 112 seats in the 147-member Odisha assembly. However, it did not fare as well in the Lok Sabha polls, with the BJP snatching eight of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Parliament. While Naveen Patnaik's party managed 12, the Congress won one.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also decided to give PM Modi's gala swearing-in ceremony a miss, citing "politicisation" of the event. Although the Trinamool Congress chief had initially agreed to attend the event in a gesture of constitutional courtesy, she later pulled out in view of the BJP's invitation to the families of 54 party workers allegedly killed in political violence across the eastern state in the last six years. According to sources, the decision was seen as a blunt message to the Bengal Chief Minister.
"The ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party that uses it as an opportunity to score political points," Mamata Banerjee wrote in a note to the Prime Minister, adding that "no political murders" were committed in West Bengal.
After a bitterly fought election, the BJP ended up winning 18 of the 42 seats in West Bengal -- just four less than the Trinamool Congress' tally of 22. Mamata Banerjee's party had bagged 34 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
PM Modi's swearing-in ceremony will begin at 7 pm tomorrow, with nearly 8,000 guests swarming to an event that's reflective of the BJP's massive win in the Lok Sabha elections.
(With inputs from PTI)