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Days after BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa steps down as chief minister, Congress- JD (S) government sworn-in with leaders of non-NDA outfits in attendance

Karnataka got its second chief minister in less than a week, on Wednesday (May 23), with JD (S) leader HD Kumaraswamy taking the oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony organised on the premises of the Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru.

Kumaraswamy, who will lead the Congress-JD (S) coalition formed after the assembly poll results on May 15 threw up a fractured mandate for the 224-member Vidhan Soudha, replaces BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa, who was forced to resign from office within two days of being sworn-in after he failed to increase the BJP’s tally of 104 seats to a simple majority of 113 ahead of the floor test that was scheduled for May 19.

The Congress leadership, which had decided to give “unconditional support” to a coalition government headed by Kumaraswamy, has managed to convince the JD (S) leader to offer the Grand Old Party the post of deputy chief minister, Assembly Speaker and 22 of the state’s 34 ministerial berths. The JD (S), which bagged just 37 seats in the assembly polls against the Congress’ 78, will, on the other hand get 12 ministerial berths and the post of the Vidhan Souidha deputy speaker.

While the coalition partners are expected to finalise the names of their ministerial candidates within the next two days, Wednesday’s oath taking ceremony saw Kumaraswamy being sworn-in for what would be his second chief ministerial stint while the Congress’s state unit chief and Dalit leader G Parameshwara took oath as the deputy chief minister.

The swearing-in ceremony, boycotted by the BJP leaders of the state who have been protesting against the “unholy alliance” between the Congress and JD (S) and praying for its “imminent fall”, also witnessed a show of strength of sorts by non-NDA parties.

In attendance at Kumaraswamy and Parameshwara’s swearing-in ceremony were Opposition stalwarts like the chief minister-designate’s father and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Andhra chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party recently ended its alliance with the BJP, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and his political arch rival and west Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav, among others.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi, who together had moved swiftly after the Karnataka verdict to stitch an alliance with the JD (S) in his bid to keep the BJP away from power in the state, were also present at the occasion.

Kumaraswamy is set to face the customary floor test on May 25, which the Congress- and JD(S) are hopeful of clearing by fending off evident efforts by the BJP to poach their legislators.

Wednesday’s ceremony gave a glimpse of the political machinations that are likely to build up as the 2019 general elections approach. The unity displayed by the Opposition parties , including outfits that are traditional rivals like the Trinamool and the Left or the SP and the BSP, is an effort to build a pan-India united front against the BJP to stop Narendra Modi from returning to the prime ministerial throne a year from now.

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