ALL THREE chief ministers of Hindi heartland states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — where the Congress formed the government after Assembly elections in December last year will not be attending the swearing-in function of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister on Thursday.
An aide of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said he had several engagements in the state capital, and denied reports he has been asked by the Congress leadership to stay put in Bhopal. Five key persons connected to Kamal Nath faced search operations conducted on April 7 during the course of Lok Sabha elections.
When contacted, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said he would not be attending the swearing-in because of “prior commitments”. “I want to congratulate the Prime Minister. However, I will not be able to attend the ceremony because of prior commitments. I have sought time from his office and will meet him separately,” he said.
The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister is on a two-day tour of Bastar beginning Thursday. He is scheduled to travel across Maoist violence-hit districts and also chair the first meeting of the Bastar Vikas Pradhikaran in Jagdalpur since he took charge as Chief Minister. In Chhattisgarh, Congress scored a landslide victory winning 67 of the 90 Assembly seats, and returned to power after 15 years. The party polled 42 per cent votes, a 10 percentage-point jump over the BJP.
Officials in the Chief Minister’s Office in Rajasthan said Ashok Gehlot was also likely to miss the Prime Minister’s swearing in programme. “No travel to the national capital has been scheduled,” said a source. Gehlot was the Congress leadership’s Chief Minister choice after the party won 112 of the 200 seats in the Assembly elections.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too will not be attending the swearing-in ceremony, his aide said, without giving any reason. He had led Congress party to victory wresting the state from the Akali Dal in March 2017, bagging 78 seats of the total 117.
Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of the only Left-run state in the country, Kerala, too would not attend the event in Delhi. Officials in his office said he had already scheduled party programmes, which were fixed much earlier.
Chief Ministers of all other southern states would be participating in the swearing-in ceremony. While Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao will air-dash to Delhi after a review meeting of irrigation projects in the state, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who led the YSR Congress to a landslide victory in Andhra, will fly to New Delhi after taking oath as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The party swept the recent Assembly polls bagging 151 of the 175 seats, and won 22 out of 25 seats in the Lok Sabha elections.
Officials in the Karnataka Chief Minister’s office said H D Kumaraswamy would participate in the swearing-in function. He is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi around 2 pm. Kumaraswamy’s JD(S), with 37 seats, formed the government in Karnataka in alliance with the Congress (80 seats).
Sources in Odisha government said Naveen Patnaik, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister for a record fifth time on Wednesday, would be unable to attend the ceremony since he had to be present in the Vidhan Sabha to attend the swearing-in of new MLAs. He led the BJD to victory in the recent Assembly polls, having won 112 of the 146 seats.
Curbs on unscheduled flights
The Delhi air traffic control has issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM), barring unscheduled flights in a 300 km radius around the capital between 4pm and 11pm. It said that aircraft of the IAF and BSF, among others, undertaking VIP or emergency operations, have been excluded from the prohibition.