Several prominent opposition leaders and Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Siddaramaiah as Chief Minister and D K Shivakumar as the Deputy Chief Minister here on Saturday as the grand old party seeks to promote opposition unity ahead of next years Lok Sabha elections. Eight newly-elected legislators are set to take oath as Ministers along with Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar. Prominent among those who will be the star attractions of the event are Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and former Jammu & Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah, the sources said. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, would be conspicuous by her absence at the event at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Former union minister M Veerappa Moily said the swearing-in ceremony could also be a launchpad for opposition unity and demonstration of strength and solidarity. Congress President M Mallikarjun Kharge has also invited leaders of JMM, RJD, Shiv Sena, SP, PDP, CPI(M), CPI, MDMK, RSP, CPI(ML), VCK, RLD, Kerala Congress and IUML for the ceremony, the sources said. Banerjee has designated TMC Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar for the programme. “Banerjee skipping the event has come as some kind of a dampener, especially after her recent statement that in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, her party will support the Congress where it is strong,” a Congress leader said. “Wherever the Congress is strong, let them fight. We will give them support; there is nothing wrong (in that). But they also have to support other political parties,” Banerjee said recently. Her statement came soon after Congress scored the emphatic victory over the BJP in the southern state bagging 135 seats in the 224-member Assembly.
“I have been invited by the Congress president (Mallikarjun Kharge). It (Karnataka Assembly poll) was an important election. Also, I have an old friendship with him (Siddaramaiah). I will be going tomorrow,” Nitish Kumar told reporters in Darbhanga on Friday. Kumar asked journalists to hold their horses upon being repeatedly asked about a meeting of opposition leaders, which his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee has asked him to hold in Bihar. “Let me come back from the function tomorrow. We will take a call in due course,” said the JD(U) supremo, who had hinted that the meeting could be held after the election in the southern state.
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