Where leaders hoped to string anti-Modi alliance

Where leaders hoped to string anti-Modi alliance

BSP chief Mayawati and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and West Bengal Chief MinisterMamata Banarjee at the swearing-in ceremony at the Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday.DH Photos/

Kumaraswamy’s oath-taking ceremony was more than just the formation of the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka. It was a major step towards building an alliance to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The stage was set for over a dozen leaders from various regional parties to come together in what is being called as the ‘third front’ in the making, an anti-BJP alliance.

The who’s who of Indian polity was in Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan.

The grand steps of the Vidhana Soudha played host to memorable moments of bonhomie among leaders who were once arch rivals and are now joining forces: Akhilesh and Mayawati sharing a joke, Tejashwi Yadav bowing to touch Mayawati’s feet, former prime minister Deve Gowda greeting Rahul and Sonia with folded hands.  

“We’re very happy for Kumaraswamy. We congratulate the brothers and sisters of Karnataka. We will keep in touch with all regional parties for the development of people,” Mamata told reporters. “Our mission and vision is clear. We can meet each other, we can talk to each other in every state. That’ll be our strength.”

Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party recently broke away from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, also stressed on unity among regional parties. “All regional parties are expressing solidarity with Kumaraswamy. In the future, we will work to protect ourselves,” Naidu said. Asked about a united front for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Naidu said: “You are watching what we are doing. We want to promote regional parties and strengthen them.”

Some of the leaders held a closed-door meeting after the ceremony. The made-for-television ceremony had a ‘photo-finish’ when all the national leaders posed with Kumaraswamy. But it was not complete till Congress leader D K Shivakumar and Kumaraswamy - both Vokkaliga leaders and arch rivals - held each other’s hands in the air. The crowd went berserk.