Congress back in Karnataka as Siddaramaiah takes oath

Bangalore, May 13 (IANS) The Congress returned to power in Karnataka on its own after nine years with its leader Siddaramaiah taking oath Monday as the 28th chief minister of the state in a grand but brief ceremony attended by tens of thousands of people.

The return of the grand old party to Vidhana Soudha, the seat of secretariat in this tech hub, was celebrated by over 50,000 people who witnessed the 10-minute swearing-in ceremony at the sprawling Kanteerva stadium in the city centre amid tight security.

As Governor H.R. Bhardwaj administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 64-year-old Siddaramaiah under a cloudy sky, the crowds cheered wildly while Siddaramaiah fans from his assembly constituency Varuna staged folk dances to the beat of music, including drums.

Siddaramaiah took oath in the name of truth and the constitution after Bhardwaj prompted him in Kannada.

Amongst the leaders present on the occasion were central ministers from the state Mallikarjun Kharge, M. Veerappa Moily, K.H. Muniyappa and K. Rahman Khan and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Noted representatives or newly-elected lawmakers from the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) were conspicuous by their absence.

BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Bangalore North D.B. Chandre Gowda and B.R. Sriramulu, head of the newly-formed BSR (Badava Shramika Raitha) Congress party, however, attended the event.

Congress general secretary and in-charge of party’s affairs in the state Madhusudhan Mistry and former external affairs minister and ex-state chief minister S.M. Krishna were among the other prominent leaders on the dais.

The national party won a comfortable majority, bagging 121 of the 223 assembly constituencies for which polling was held May 5. It has formed the government on its own seven years after it shared power with the JD-S in the state’s first coalition government.

In the new legislative assembly, the BJP and JD-S have 40 seats each as against 110 and 28 in the previous house. The new regional outfit Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), floated by former BJP chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, has six seats, BSR four and the remaining 12 are independents.

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