Panchkula (Haryana): Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who was under fire from BJP leaders after the SAD leadership, including Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal campaigned against the saffron party nominees during the Assembly elections attended the oath-taking ceremony of Manohar Lal Khattar here today.
Also Om Parkash Chautala-led INLD, which was the principal opposition, besides Congress to the BJP was also represented by Abhay Chautala.
Besides Badal and Chautala, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan was among the non-BJP leaders who attended the swearing-in function of Khattar.
Outgoing Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, however, did not attend the function saying he had not received an invite.
“I did not get the invite. Had I got one, I would have thought over it (whether to attend or not),” Hooda told reporters.86-year-old Badal, the five-time Punjab Chief Minister, was among the top dignitaries who arrived at the function venue at Sector 5 HUDA ground here early.
Khattar took oath as Haryana Chief Minister at 11:20 AM. However, Abhay Chautala, the senior leader of the INLD, arrived late at the venue after all dignitaries including
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had arrived and were seated on the dais and the national anthem was in progress.
Abhay was stopped by the security personnel for a brief period as the national anthem was playing. However, later on he was allowed to proceed on to the stage, but not from the side from where all VVIPs had walked in.
Like Badal, Paswan also reached the venue early. 48 years after formation of Haryana, the state got its first BJP led government headed by first time MLA Manohar Lal Khattar who was sworn in by Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki with nine member Council of Ministers.
Prime Minister Modi, veteran BJP leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP President Amit Shah, Chief Ministers of four BJP ruled states - Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, were among those present.
At the end of the function, Khattar exchanged pleasantries with the dignitaries and touched Advani's feet to seek his blessings.
Badal, whose party had opposed the BJP during the Haryana Assembly elections, was seated next to Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil and Chattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh.
However, not much pleasantries were exchanged between Badal and the top BJP leadership.
Senior BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had hit out at the Akalis for tying up with INLD in Haryana against the BJP, was also present at the function.
Birender Singh and Rao Inderjit Singh, the two senior leaders who joined the BJP this year after deserting the Congress, were also present.
A number of Union Ministers including Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Harsh Vardhan, Maneka Gandhi, V K Singh, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ananth Kumar, Venkaiah Naidu, Krishan Pal Gujjar were also present at the ceremony.
Apart from the BJP MLAs who were recently elected and the party MPs from the State, other senior saffron leaders who attended the function included J P Nadda, Anil Jain, Suresh Bhatt, Sushil Modi, Kailash Vijayvargiya and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister P K Dhumal.
A representative of the political wing of the Sirsa-based sect Dera Sacha Sauda also attended the function. Notably, the Dera's political wing had extended its support to the BJP ahead of the Haryana assembly polls.
Tight security arrangements had been made in the town in view of the visit of top leaders.
A number of BJP workers and other leaders from different parts of the State also attended the ceremony.