Opposition show of unity: ‘We are one’, says HDK; ‘celebration of corruption’, counters BJP

NEW DELHI: Newly-crowned Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy , on May 23, said the Congress-JD(S) alliance had brought together opposition leaders in an unprecedented show of strength against the BJP-led Centre in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“Leaders who came from all over country wanted to give a message to the nation that we are one and in 2019 there will be a major change in political situation, they were not here to protect this government, this government will be protected by local Congress leaders and our leaders,” Kumaraswamy said at a press briefing.
The BJP, on its part, slammed the Congress-JD(S) combine as an “opportunistic alliance” and described the presence of a host of opposition leaders at Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony as a “celebration of corruption.”
Earlier in the day, Kumaraswamy was sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka in a ceremony attended by national leaders and regional satraps exactly a year ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. G Parameshwara, the state Congress chief and the party’s Dalit face, was sworn in as Kumaraswamy’s deputy. The highlight of the ceremony was when leaders posed for a group photograph, clasping each other’s hands and raising them, a show of solidarity being perceived as a possible harbinger of a broad-based anti-BJP alliance to take on the ruling NDA next year.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, N Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal and Pinarayi Vijayan — her counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Kerala respectively — were in attendance at the ceremony.
BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who had formed an alliance during by-polls in Uttar Pradesh, were seen sitting next to each other. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and NCP chief Sharad Pawar were among the high-powered guests who shared a dais during the oath-taking ceremony.
Calling himself a “circumstantial chief minister”, 58-year-old Kumaraswamy said while challenging days may be ahead for the coalition government, the Congress and JD(S) will work together for the betterment of Karnataka and its people.
“This coalition government will run better than any one party government and we will concentrate on working for the public. We have decided to work together for the betterment of the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP boycotted the ceremony and observed a “black day” during which it held statewide protests against the new coalition government.
Opposition parties were free to “daydream” of taking on PM Modi in upcoming elections but “they cannot stop the march of Narendra Modi and his government”, said senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Ahead of the ceremony, N Chandrababu Naidu and Mamata Banerjee called upon all regional parties to come together on a common platform to strengthen federalism.
“We will keep in touch with all the regional parties so that we can work for the development of the nation, development of the people and development of the federal set-up also,” Mamata said.
When asked whether the coming together of leaders of so many non-BJP parties heralded a common front against the BJP and NDA, Naidu said, “We want to promote more and more regional parties. We want to strengthen (regional parties). That is Mamata ji’s and our party’s mission and that’s how we are working.”

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