NEW DELHI: As HD Kumaraswamy preps for his swearing-in ceremony to be held in Bengaluru's sprawling Kanteerava stadium on Wednesday next, the occasion is going to serve more than one purpose. It will also serve as a show of unity for opposition leaders and possibly even share notes. Mr Kumaraswamy said he was going to personally invite Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president to the ceremony as well as many of the country's regional heavyweights.
Ms Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party, who had also tied up with Mr Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular, and Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav are going to be there. So are chief ministers of two neighbours, Andhra Pradesh's Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana's K Chandrashekar Rao.
Ms Banerjee was among the first to pick up the phone to congratulate Mr Kumaraswamy after BJP's BS Yeddyurappa resigned in face of imminent defeat in the trust vote. She also ended up announcing on Twitter Mr Kumaraswamy's plan to hold the swearing-in ceremony on Monday.
The date was later shifted to Wednesday after Congress leaders pointed that Monday was former prime minister and Rahul Gandhi's father, Rajiv Gandhi's death anniversary.
At a media briefing that he had used to launch a stinging attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress president had left the possibility of joining hands with regional players open.
Without tying his party to a firm stand on pre-poll alliances with other opposition parties, Mr Gandhi said the Congress would protect the voice of the people in every state.
"Where ever we feel that the BJP is attacking democracy..., you will find the Congress. This means that all of us, the Opposition together, in a coordinated manner, will defeat the BJP," he said.
That may not be good enough for Mamata Banerjee, who has been advocating that the opposition put up a joint candidate against the BJP in the 2019 elections.
She had recently blamed the Congress for not tying up with the Janata Dal Secular ahead of the Karnataka elections, saying Rahul Gandhi's party should have "worked more tactfully" with HD Deve Gowda. "It would have helped them," she had said.
In the assembly results a few days later, the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, the Congress came second and the JDS, a distant third.
But the two parties quickly worked the phones and arrived at a pact to let Mr Kumaraswamy become the Chief Minister. The Congress, despite getting a larger share of the seats, settled for the Deputy Chief Minister's chair. With the Karnataka pact, the Congress has demonstrated to its potential allies that it was, in principle, willing to go the extra mile to fight the BJP.