H D Kumaraswamy sworn in as Karnataka chief minister amid opposition show of unity
NEW DELHI: After days of high drama and power-broking, JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy on Wednesday took oath as Karnataka‘s 24th chief minister, while Congress state president G Parameshwara was sworn in as his deputy.
Kumaraswamy, aka ‘Kumaranna’, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by governor Vajubhai Vala in front of the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, as a host of national and regional leaders looked on.
“I will be the king and not the kingmaker,” Kumaraswamy had said in the run up to the Karnataka polls. His words proved prophetic as the 58-year-old Vokkaliga leader has now donned the crown despite his JD(S) finishing a distant third in the electoral battlefield.
This will be Kumarawamy’s second term as the chief minister of Karnataka since 2007, when he last held the post for 20 months.
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) powerhouse Sitaram Yechury, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and NCP leader Sharad Pawar were among the high-powered guests who shared a dais during the oath-taking ceremony.
Rain briefly played spoilsport, forcing people to take shelter under tarp sheets, but the light showers could not dampen the spirits of thousands of party workers gathered outside the Vidhan Soudha, who were cheering and waving flags and banners.
Ahead of taking oath, Kumaraswamy said there would be certain limitations in a coalition government and he would have to take his coalition partner, the Congress, into confidence over a number of matters.
Speaking to reporters at Mysuru after worshipping Goddess Chamundeshwari at the Chamunda Hill temple, the JD(S) leader said the new government will waive farmer loans after improving the state’s financial outlook.
“They (Congress) too have their own programmes in their manifesto. We have to compile the manifesto of two parties and after improving the economy of the state, we will waive farm loans. There is no question of my backtracking,” he added.
In the recently held state assembly elections, Kumaraswamy won from both the Channapatna and Ramanagara assembly constituencies.
The election result for 222 out of 224 assembly constituencies resulted in a fractured mandate, with the BJP emerging as the single largest party (104 seats) only nine seats short of a simple majority mark of 112.
The Congress with 78 seats and JD(S) with 37 seats, and two Independent candidates, formed a post-poll alliance with a total of 117 MLAs.
What followed was a high-voltage political drama in the state, as governor Vajubhai Vala invited BJP’s B S Yeddyurappa to form a government on May 16, and gave him 15 days to prove majority, amid huge uproar by the opposition.
On May 18, the Supreme Court, on the plea of the Congress and JD(S), shifted the floor test to May 19. Unable to garner the required number by the deadline, Yeddyurappa stepped down from the post of chief minister before the floor test could be conducted, mere two days after he was sworn in.
Disgruntled with this sequence of events, the BJP is observing ‘Anti-People’s Mandate Day’ in Karnataka in protest against the formation of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in the state.