Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath took oath as the 18th Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on Monday in the presence of nearly all major Opposition leaders in Bhopal.
Nath, the president of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, was sworn in on the day when the Delhi High Court convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Following Kumar’s conviction, demands that Kamal Nath should not be made Chief Minister gained momentum across the country.
The 72-year-old Kamal Nath, who represented Chhindwara for nine terms in the Lok Sabha, was the only one to take the oath even as the other contender to the Chief Minister’s post, Jyotiraditya Scindia, was present. Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath at a function held at the Jambori Maidan.
The ceremony was held an hour behind schedule at 2.30 pm.
Both Nath and Scindia were instrumental in bringing an end to the 15 years of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule in Madhya Pradesh, 13 of which was helmed by outgoing CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In a noble gesture that was praised by many on social media, Chouhan, who was present at the swearing-in, raised the hands of Nath and Scindia. Hundreds of Congress activists and supporters gathered there broke into applause.
The brief ceremony was attended by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda, another former BJP Chief Minister Babulal Gaur and a galaxy of national leaders in a show of opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Among the opposition stalwarts present were NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his Karnataka counterpart HD Kumaraswamy, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi, JMM chief Hemant Soren, DMK leaders MK Stalin, TR Balu and Kanimozhi, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti.
Congress leaders who were present included Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his deputy Sachin Pilot, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, Puducherry Chief Minster V Narayanaswamy, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Minister DK Shivakumar, Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, UP Congress President Raj Babbar and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda
BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, whose parties have extended support to the Congress government, were conspicuous by their absence.