The swearing-in ceremony of the new ministers of the Siddaramaiah government, though a joyous occasion for many, was marked by protests and absence of senior leaders.
Amid slogan shouting by hordes of supporters outside and inside the Raj Bhavan, 28 ministers took the oath in the presence of the smiling chief minister Siddaramaiah.
An obvious evidence of this joy was captured in the face of the 81-year-old Shamanur Shivashankarappa when he signed his papers for the first time as a minister.
Despite being unable to walk without help, Shivashankarappa was all smiles when he was congratulated by the Governor H R Bhardwaj, who is younger to him.
In the crowd, family members of almost all the new ministers were present to witness the momentous occasion. From cine star M H Ambareesh’s actor-wife Sumalatha to first-time minister Krishna Byregowda’s wife Meenakshi, many were seen clicking photos on their mobile phones or cameras.
The biggest cheer, however, was received by young minister U T Khader who has been elected MLA from Mangalore. Hordes of Khader’s supporters were found cheering him as he took the oath and later signed his papers. The event which lasted for no more than 45 minutes saw massive crowds near the ministers, seconds after the national anthem was played.
However, the absence of top Congress leaders was felt on the occasion.
Barring Union Minister of State for Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, K H Muniyappa none of the Central ministers from State were present. Former Chief Minister S M Krishna too was conspicuous by his absence.
Discontent among the Congress ranks was visible as ministership aspirants R Roshan Baig and D K Shivakumar stayed way from the event. The KPCC president Dr G Parameshwara made a delayed appearance, leading to a lot of speculations.
Outside the Raj Bhavan, there was a huge show of strength by the supporters of new minister and Gandhinagar MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao, who were carrying his portraits and placards with the Congress symbol.
The roads leading to the Raj Bhavan were closed for vehicles by the traffic police. Except the minister-designates and newly elected MLAs, all others had to reach the Raj Bhavan by foot.
At the Vidhana Soudha, the scenes were no different after the swearing in ceremony. As the ministers joined for an informal cabinet meeting at the cabinet hall, the personal assistants of most of the ministers were seen lobbying with the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) for rooms preferred by the ministers.
The DPAR, by afternoon, had received no less than 19 requests, for rooms in the Vidhana Soudha.
“The final decision on the matter will be taken by the Chief Minister, who will have to approve the room allocation,” said K S Manjunath, Deputy Secretary, DPAR (Executive).