Senior Congress leader and nine-time Lok Sabha member Kamal Nath was sworn-in as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh on Monday afternoon. The ceremony took place at the Lal Parade Ground in Bhopal around 2.30 pm.
Nath succeeds Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was in power for 15 years. The Congress emerged the single-largest party with 114 seats, while the BJP got 109 – both parties were short of the majority mark of 116. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party offered support to the Congress.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh attended the ceremony. Other leaders at the event included National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin, Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav attended the ceremony. Shivraj Singh Chouhan was also present at the event.
Kamal Nath’s swearing in came amid controversy over his alleged involvement in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Delhi BJP activists protested near the Congress headquarters in the national Capital against Nath’s appointment. The protestors included many riot victims and their family members. The protestors began their march from Taj Mansingh hotel and were headed towards the Congress headquarters, but were stopped by the police.
“There are witnesses against Nath who led the mob in anti-Sikh riot,” Delhi BJP leader Rajeev Babbar said, according to PTI. “Still Rahul Gandhi chose to make him the Madhya Pradesh chief minister, thereby opening the old wounds of the victims and their families.”
Nath was named the chief minister after a day of meetings between Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was the other contender for the post, in New Delhi.
Kamal Nath has said over the past week that he was “not hungry for the chief minister’s post”, but “hungry to get Congress back in Madhya Pradesh”. He said he had proved that the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combination was not invincible, and that the top priorities of his government would be to better the state’s fiscal health and expose Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly faulty policies such as the Goods and Services Tax regime and demonetisation.
Earlier in the day, Ashok Gehlot took oath as Rajasthan chief minister. Bhupesh Baghel will be sworn in as the chief minister of Chhattisgarh later on Monday. The Congress had won 99 of 200 seats in Rajasthan and 68 of 90 seats in Chhattisgarh. The Bharatiya Janata Party was earlier in power in all three states.