Nitish oath taking to display anti-Modi muscle

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi and chief ministers of Delhi, West Bengal, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh will attend the November 20 oath taking of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in an event which is being touted as the beginning of opposition unity against the BJP.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda will also attend the event along with Assam’s Congress Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. So will former chief ministers Babulal Marandi and Hemant Soren of Jharkhand and INLD leader Abhay Chautala from Haryana.

“We have decided to invite all leaders opposed to the BJP to attend the ceremony,” Janata Dal-United (JD-U) spokesperson Ajay Alok said here on Thursday.

JD-U general secretary K.C. Tyagi said all the senior leaders opposed to the BJP’s brand of politics would come together in the first major show of opposition unity since Narendra Modi became prime minister in May 2014.

“It will be a new beginning of opposition unity,” he said.

The Grand Alliance led by Nitish Kumar — who will take oath as chief minister for a third straight time — also includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad and the Congress. It crushed the BJP and its allies, winning 178 of the 243 assembly seats.

The chief ministers expected to attend are Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party, Uttar Pradesh), Naveen Patnaik (BJD, Odisha), Arvind Kejriwal (AAP, Delhi) and Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool Congress, West Bengal).

Lalu Prasad, whose RJD is the single largest party in the new Bihar house, and JD-U president Sharad Yadav will be the main guests at the event.

Nitish Kumar on Wednesday said he will recommend the dissolution of the state assembly on Saturday after holding a last meeting of his cabinet. He will stake claim to form his new government after a joint meeting of the Grand Alliance that day.

According to JD-U leaders here, Nitish Kumar will take oath along with a 36-member council of ministers after the Chhath festival in the third week of November.

In the Grand Alliance, the RJD won 80 seats followed by the JD-U with 71 and the Congress with 27 seats. There will be 16 ministers from the RJD, 15 from the JD-U and five from the Congress.

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