New Delhi: Karnataka is likely to become the epicentre of opposition politics, with several stalwarts opposed to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expected to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of chief minister-designate H. D. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday.
The coming together of the two ruling parties of the alliance, the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S), is significant because the BJP could not muster the numbers to form a government even though it was the single-largest party in the recent state assembly polls.
Those invited to the event include former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Kumaraswamy met both in Delhi on Monday. The swearing-in is also likely to see the coming together of arch rivals like former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav as well as Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
Senior leaders of the JD(S) believe that just as political competitors Congress and JD(S) have come together in Karnataka to take on the BJP, it was the need of the hour for political opponents in other states as well to join hands and form an alliance against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of general elections next year.
“Opposition unity will take off on Wednesday; several leaders including N. Chandrababu Naidu, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, former Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, Ajit Singh, chief of Rashtriya Lok Dal, Dushyant Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal and Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Part of India (Maoist) are part of the guest list invited for the event," said Danish Ali, senior JD(S) leader, who accompanied Kumaraswamy to Delhi for meetings with the Gandhis as well as Mayawati.
Interestingly, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has also been invited for the swearing-in. If Kejriwal, who also heads the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), attends the event, it would be the first time that he would participate in an opposition gathering of this size.
Unable to muster the numbers for the trust vote, former chief minister B. S. Yedyurappa resigned in less than three days, leaving the Congress-JD(S) combine to form the government. While Kumaraswamy will be sworn in as chief minister on Wednesday, the trust vote is likely on Thursday.
Top leaders of the JD(S) and Congress are now giving the final shape to portfolio distribution. Senior Congress leaders said the outline of government was discussed during Kumaraswamy’s meeting with Rahul Gandhi. According to leaders aware of developments, Gandhi has authorized general secretary K. C. Venugopal to head the discussions with JD(S) over portfolio divisions and other issues.
According to people aware of the developments, if the Congress party decides on a deputy chief ministerial candidate, then the swearing-in for that too can take place along with Kumaraswamy on Wednesday. A section of the Congress party feels that the party’s state unit chief G. Parameshwara, is a contender for the post.
After the meeting with Gandhis, Kumaraswamy told reporters that it was a courtesy meet and he wanted to invite them for the swearing-in.