Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 29
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) working president Hemant Soren today took oath as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand amid a show of opposition strength reminiscent of the May 2018 swearing-in ceremony of former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy.
Soren, 44, is the 11th CM of Jharkhand. This will be his second stint in the Chief Minister’s Office, having earlier presided over a government that lasted 14 months starting July 2013. Congress leader Alamgir Alam, a former Speaker of the Assembly; Jharkhand Congress chief Rameshwar Oraon and RJD’s Satyanand Bhokta also took oath as part of the state Cabinet today. Cabinet expansion will happen later.
Hemant Soren was administered oath of office by Governor Droupadi Murmu and had among guests a galaxy of opposition leaders representing major non-BJP parties.
Former CM and BJP leader Raghubar Das was also present. Among Opposition stalwarts on the stage were West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav, DMK chief MK Stalin and his sister and Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, AAP’s Sanjay Singh, and Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, respectively.
“I attended the swearing-in ceremony of CM Hemant Soren Ji and ministers from the Congress in Ranchi today. I’m confident that the new government in Jharkhand will work for the benefit of all citizens & usher in an era of peace & prosperity in the state,” Rahul Gandhi said today sharing pictures on his Twitter timeline.
But an open call for Opposition unity over ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens issue was given by MK Stalin who saw today’s event as a marker of the unity of “secular forces”.
“Unity and coordination among secular parties is essential to oppose CAA, NRC and NPR and to fight back communal forces and protect social justice. Wish the new government in Jharkhand a successful tenure,” Stalin said. This was only the second time since the oath-taking of JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy as Karnataka CM in May 2018 that rivals Mamata Banerjee of TMC and Left leaders shared the same stage.
Even in 2018, the show of non-NDA strength at the Kumaraswamy swearing-in had led to talks of a potential anti-BJP coalition ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The imposing image of then Congress leader Sonia Gandhi holding up the hand of BSP chief Mayawati had caught the Opposition’s imagination at the time. But the palpable bonhomie soon frittered away as Mayawati allied with SP and snubbed Congress in UP ahead of the general election.
It is yet to be seen if today’s act of opposition parties sharing a platform lends itself into purposive and coordinated anti BJP strategy on CAA-NRC, as sought by Stalin.
Congress sources said there were greater chances of non-BJP forces aligning because “the national mood on CAA-NRC issue was evidently against the ruling party.”
“The Opposition unity is bound to be a byproduct of people’s angst against the government which is pressing ahead with the CAA and NRC. This national mood will cement opposition unity as we go by,” said a senior Congress leader.
So far the Congress has drafted its own independent strategy around the CAA and NRC protests. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have chosen their own locations to join the protests and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi released a video message against BJP’s twin moves.
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