HD Kumaraswamy, sworn in as the new chief minister of Karnataka on Wednesday, will lead the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in the state.
The oath-taking ceremony turned out to be a springboard for Opposition unity, which aims at dislodging the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
A galaxy of national and regional leaders and chief ministers of major non-BJP states from across the country were present on the occasion.
Among the prominent political leaders who shared the huge dais were UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, expelled Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav and Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.
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Chief ministers Mamata Bannerjee (West Bengal), N Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) and Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala) were also present at the 10-minute swearing-in ceremony.
While a ‘united’ opposition aims at removing the BJP government at the Centre, the million dollar question is whether these parties will have enough numbers in the Lok Sabha to cobble up a majority after the 2019 general elections.
The number of Lok Sabha seats held by the thirteen parties which were present at the swearing-in ceremony today is as follows:
Congress - 48, Trinamool Congress (TMC) - 34, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) – 16, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) – 9, Samajwadi Party (SP) – 7, Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) – 6, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – 4, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) – 4, Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) – 2, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) – 2, Communist Party of India (CPI) – 1, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – 0 and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) – 0.
While Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao did not attend the oath-taking ceremony, he met Kumaraswamy on Tuesday to extend his greetings, and indicating support to the parties, which aim at uniting for the upcoming elections.
If the 11 Lok Sabha seats held by Rao’s TRS is added, the total number of Lok Sabha seats in control of the ‘anti-BJP’ Opposition adds up to 144.
Currently the House has a strength of 545 seats out of which 543 elected members are directly elected and at the President of India nominates the remaining two members from the Anglo-Indian Community.
On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone has 272 Lok Sabha members, which accounts for around 50.83 per cent of the total strength. The BJP (of the NDA) had achieved an absolute majority with 282 seats out of 543 in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, BJP’s number went down after the party’s defeat in some of the bypolls held thereafter.
The representatives of the political parties, which were present at the podium, together form around 40 per cent of the vote share which these parties got during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which BJP came first with 31 per cent of the vote share.
However, taking on BJP – a party which rules more than 70 per cent of the country’s population – in the upcoming elections will be a Herculean task for these parties because of one big question – who will be the leader of the Opposition and will he be acceptable to all these 13 parties?