Bengaluru (PTI): Several prominent opposition leaders and Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Siddaramaiah as Chief Minister and D K Shivakumar as the Deputy Chief Minister here on Saturday as the grand old party seeks to promote opposition unity ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections.

Eight newly-elected legislators are set to take oath as Ministers along with Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar.

Prominent among those who will be the star attractions of the event are Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and former Jammu & Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah, the sources said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, would be conspicuous by her absence at the event at Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

Former union minister M Veerappa Moily said the swearing-in ceremony could also be a launchpad for opposition unity and demonstration of strength and solidarity.

Congress President M Mallikarjun Kharge has also invited leaders of JMM, RJD, Shiv Sena, SP, PDP, CPI(M), CPI, MDMK, RSP, CPI(ML), VCK, RLD, Kerala Congress and IUML for the ceremony, the sources said.

Banerjee has designated TMC Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar for the programme.
"Banerjee skipping the event has come as some kind of a dampener, especially after her recent statement that in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, her party will support the Congress where it is strong," a Congress leader said.

"Wherever the Congress is strong, let them fight. We will give them support; there is nothing wrong (in that). But they also have to support other political parties," Banerjee said recently.

Her statement came soon after Congress scored the emphatic victory over the BJP in the southern state bagging 135 seats in the 224-member Assembly.

"I have been invited by the Congress president (Mallikarjun Kharge). It (Karnataka Assembly poll) was an important election. Also, I have an old friendship with him (Siddaramaiah). I will be going tomorrow," Nitish Kumar told reporters in Darbhanga on Friday.

Kumar asked journalists to hold their horses upon being repeatedly asked about a meeting of opposition leaders, which his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee has asked him to hold in Bihar.

"Let me come back from the function tomorrow. We will take a call in due course," said the JD(U) supremo, who had hinted that the meeting could be held after the election in the southern state.

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Mysuru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who visited his constituency Varuna in Mysuru district for the first time since taking charge as the head of the state government in May, declared that he would enthusiastically serve the people till his last breath.

Siddaramaiah, who landed at the Suttur Helipad in Nanjangud taluk on Saturday, was accorded a warm welcome by his supporters. He also attended a program at Biligere in Varuna, to thank the voters who ensured his victory in the recent Assembly election. Addressing the gathering, the CM said, “This was the last election I would contest in, but I will remain active in politics till I die as it would give me an opportunity to serve the citizens.”

Siddaramaiah further said, “The great seers of our land like Basavanna always lived true to their words. Keeping them as my model, I took oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Basava Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Basavanna,” adding, “The post of a chief minister, however, is by no means a position of luxury. I consider it an opportunity for me to bring in improvement in the lives of the people of Karnataka.”

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Referring to his earlier work as Karnataka CM, he said, “There were schemes in 2013 for the welfare of all people without distinction between communities, region or religion. Our government, in its current tenure, will be even more efficient in working for the welfare of the people and our schemes will be more fruitful than those during the earlier tenure.”

Speaking about the guarantees promised by the Congress government, Siddaramaiah stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had said that the Congress would fail at implementing the promises leading the state to bankruptcy and also pointed out that the state government had implemented all the five guarantees. “When the Congress government promised schemes that would benefit the lower and middle classes, PM Modi and the Central government should have supported us in our efforts. Our PM, unfortunately, is not considering an uplift of the lower and middle classes worthy of his efforts,” said Siddaramaiah, also hitting out at the BJP for ‘continuing its convention of confusing the people with its horde of lies’.

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