NEW DELHI: How will the swearing-in look on Sunday (today) when leaders of regional countries show up to greet the prime minister-designate, but members of opposition parties don’t? To rub in the point, a view has been circulated by the opposition that Mr Modi hasn’t got the numbers fairly. Others say he has the numbers but not the mandate.

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee was sanguine that Mr Modi wouldn’t have got the numbers the BJP has without the alleged helping hand of the Election Commission. Ms Banerjee announced that the TMC party would not attend the swearing-in ceremony.

“They (BJP) have not become the single largest party. Whatever they got, more than 200, there is manipulation of EC,” she said, referring to the BJP’s tally of 240 Lok Sabha seats in the elections, 32 MPs short of a majority.

The Congress said it would consider its response to the swearing-in when or if the invitation is delivered. Mr Modi spent a chunk of his acceptance speech after being elected as the head of the National Democratic Alliance spewing invectives at the Congress.

“I am sorry, but I cannot wish well to an unconstitutional, illegal party for forming the government,” Ms Banerjee said. “My best wishes will be for the country. I will tell all the MPs to strengthen their party…We will not break your party but there will be divisions in your party from within, people in your party are not happy.”

That a rift has erupted within the BJP is common lore today. Accordingly, former BJP president Nitin Gadkari is seen as being quietly isolated by Mr Modi, while Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is said to be unhappy with Amit Shah, the erstwhile home minister. This has prompted analysts to remark that the opposition looks stronger than the coalition headed by Mr Modi.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the Lok Sabha poll mandate is a “decisive rejection” of the politics of divisiveness and hate, and stressed that the INDIA bloc must continue functioning cohesively both inside and outside Parliament.

On the other hand, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived in Delhi on Saturday for the ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. An official statement said Sri Lanka’s president Ranil Wickremesinghe, Maldives’ Mohamed Muizzu, Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan’s Tshering Tobgay, Nepal’s Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, and Mauritius’ Pravind Kumar Jugnauth have accepted the invitation to attend the event.

Seychelles’ Vice President Ahmed Afif will also be attending the ceremony, reports said. Five companies of paramilitary personnel, NSG commandos, drones and snipers would guard the ceremony

Closer home, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday called a meeting of his party’s MPs, and candidates at the Lucknow office. In New Delhi, the Congress party unanimously elected Sonia Gandhi as the chairperson of the Congress parliamentary board. A resolution also singled out Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi for leading the opposition alliance to a new height.

Breakaway Shiv Sena leader Shrikant Shinde sang paeans to Mr Modi amid reports that the Maharashtra government assembled by poaching and splitting erstwhile allies was seriously worried about its prospects in state assembly polls due later this year.

“NDA is about to form the government for the third time…By trusting the 10 years of work done by PM Modi and the NDA government, the public has chosen the NDA government again…The nation will witness a historic moment tomorrow…”

But Mr Shinde didn’t explain why there was a near rout in his state if the going was indeed good. Before the swearing-in ceremony, Mr. Modi will visit Raj Ghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.

The other day before national TV, he made a point of kissing the copy of the constitution kept in parliament.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2024

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