How often do you see a galaxy of opposition leaders travel together on a same bus? Monday was one of those rare occasions when Congress president Rahul Gandhi along with his party veteran and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, DMK president MK Stalin, NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, MP Kanimozhi and Loktantrik Janata Dal party leader Sharad Yadav travelled in a luxury bus, named as "Gathbandhan Travels", to three swearing-in ceremonies a day.
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While Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot took oath as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Kamal Nath sworn in as Madhya Pradesh’s CM, whereas Bhupesh Baghel became Chhattisgarh’s new Chief Minister on Monday.
The leaders travelled in special flights to make attend the three events back-to-back.
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However, the bus travelled sans three top leaders – West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav.
Leaders of the Samajwadi Party, the Telugu Desam Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the TrinamoolCongress, the National Congress Party are understood to have reservations over naming any prime ministerial nominee for the Opposition alliance for the 2019 general elections.
Speaking at an event organised to unveil a statue of former Tamil Nadu chief minister K Karunanidhi in Chennai on Sunday, Stalin made a strong pitch for Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the Opposition for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, saying the Gandhi scion had the ability to defeat the "fascist" Narendra Modi government.
Kamal Nath, however, on Monday said Rahul Gandhi never insisted on the prime minister's post. "I am not sure if people will have a problem... Rahul Gandhi never said he insists on the prime minister's post. This has got to be discussed among all allies without any pre-condition and the Congress has to go along with that," NDTV quoted Kamal Nath as saying.
In pictures, young Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia are seen sitting together.
In the two-phase polls on November 12 and November 20, the Congress romped home to power in Chhattisgarh after 15 years with a two-third majority, winning 68 seats in the 90-member House. The BJP, in power in the state since 2003, was reduced to 15 seats.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has won 114 seats in the 230-member House, the poll results of which were declared on December 11. It has secured support of a total of 121 MLAs, including SP - 1 and BSP - 2 legislators as also of four independents, to cross the majority mark of 116 seats.
In Rajasthan, the Congress on Friday named Gehlot Rajasthan's next chief minister and Sachin Pilot his deputy after party president Rahul Gandhi brokered peace between the veteran leader and his younger colleague over several rounds of discussions lasting more than two days. The Congress went from 21 seats against the BJP's 163 in 2013 to getting 99 seats (plus one of the Rashtriya Lok Dal) in the assembly elections, the votes for which were counted on Tuesday.