Bihar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the invitation of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to be present at the swearing-in ceremony of his new government on November 20, but will not be able to make it to the event due to prior engagements.
Kumar talked to the PM over telephone and extended his invitation for the oath-taking function at Gandhi Maidan at 2 PM on November 20, sources in the Chief Minister's office said.
The PM has decided to depute Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu to represent the Union Government at the ceremony on Friday, which would be a gala event with Chief Ministers of nine states attending it.
Bihar BJP vice-president Sanjay Mayukh told PTI that due to his "prior fixed programmes" the PM would not be able to attend the ceremony. He said Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State (Independent Charge) Rajiv Pratap Rudy would represent the Union government at the swearing-in function.
The Chief Minister's Office released a list of guests attending the November 20 ceremony, which includes Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, former PM H D Devegowda, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his National Conference counterpart Farooq Abdullah and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.
The official guest list has names of nine Chief Ministers, including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav.
In a bid to showcase the Bihar victory on a large scale, six CMs of Congress ruled states would attend the swearing in function at Gandhi Maidan on Friday.
They include Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, Sikkim CM P K Chamling, Manipur CM O Ibobi Singh and Arunachal Pradesh CM Nabam Tuki.
The swearing in ceremony of the new Bihar government of secular alliance comprising JD(U), RJD and Congress would showcase unity of parties opposed to BJP.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad would also be present at the ceremony.
The Bihar elections, which leaders used to claim would change the course of national politics, promise to present a mega picture of opposition unity ahead of the crucial Winter Session of the Parliament later this month.
Sources in the CMO in Patna said Nitish Kumar gave a personal touch to the invitations by telephoning all leaders and requesting them to come for the event.
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and D Raja are among the confirmed guests for the function.
T M K Stalin of the DMK party has also confirmed his participation. BJP ally Shiv Sena has accepted invitation and decided to send two Maharashtra ministers Ram Das Kadam and Subhash Desai to the function.
The event would be graced by former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah, Sheila Dixit, Bhupendra Singh Yadav, Ajit Jogi, Babu Lal Marandi, Hemant Soren of the JMM and Shankar Singh Baghela.
President of National Lok Dal Ajit Singh and former Union Minister and NCP leader Praful Patel would also be present on the occasion.
Abhya Chautala of the INLD, BBM leader Prakash Ambedkar, former MP Ram Jethmalani, Raj Babbar and H K Dua are among the confirmed guests in the list. Along with these guests from across the country, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his JD(U) counterpart Sharad Yadav would also be present at the ceremony.