DAINIK NATION BUREAU
The Congress today takes charge in three heartland states that it seized from the ruling BJP in recent state elections. But the oath ceremonies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will be less jubilant than the party had hoped for. Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, three of the country’s top opposition leaders, will be conspicuously missing from the events. Their absence is likely to throw the spotlight on the differences within the opposition, which has been working towards a united front against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the national polls next year.
Starting this morning with Rajasthan, the Congress has planned back-to-back swearing-in ceremonies in the three states.
Ashok Gehlot will be sworn in as Rajasthan Chief Minister in Jaipur in the morning, Kamal Nath will take the oath in Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal around 1 pm and Bhupesh Baghel will take charge in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur at 4 pm.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is expected to attend all the three oath ceremonies. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu might also make it to all three events, sources in his party told news agency PTI.
Other prominent opposition leaders likely to attend the programmes include former prime minister HD Devegowda, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah and Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav.
One significant guest at the Rajasthan ceremony will be Sanjay Singh of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party. His presence will add to theories that the AAP and Congress are trying to overcome years of acrimony in a bid to see the BJP defeated in 2019.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has dispatched her party lawmaker Dinesh Trivedi to attend the Madhya Pradesh event. Kamal Nath told NDTV Ms Banerjee had 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 will be even more noticed since she helped the Congress touch majority in Madhya Pradesh, saying she wanted to keep the BJP out. Kamal Nath said: “She had a genuine reason, she told me she had pulled a nerve.” Before the elections, amid failed efforts at forging an alliance, the Uttar Pradesh politician had called the Congress, like the BJP, a “snake”.
The absence of the two leaders, along with that of Akhilesh Yadav, will mean the ceremonies won’t be the dazzling opposition parade first seen at the oath of Mr Kumaraswamy in Karnataka in May this year.
That the patchy show comes just 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.
Last week, when votes were counted in five states after month-long elections in five states, the Congress suffered decisive losses in Telangana and Mizoram but managed to trump the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The results were the BJP’s biggest electoral loss since PM Modi took office in 2014. NDTV