NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy — who took oath this morning after receiving a massive mandate — and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao will skip the oath ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that will take place in Delhi this evening. Both leaders had accepted invitations to the ceremony and were expected to leave for Delhi this afternoon.
Instead, Mr Reddy is hosting a lunch that will be attended by Mr Rao and DMK chief MK Stalin. Mr Rao, who reached Vijaywada yesterday for today’s ceremony, was expected to leave for Delhi by a special flight at 2 pm.
Mr Reddy and Mr Rao have been operating together since before the elections. In case of a split verdict, they had planned to support government formation at the centre by any party that accepted Mr Reddy’s demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh.
The BJP’s plans to expand their base in the south following the party’s spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha elections are seen to have drawn the two together,
The BJP has done extremely well in Karnataka — the state ruled by the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular — winning 26 of the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats. Reports say Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are on their radar.
The party had tied up with Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, but the performance of the alliance has been poor. The Congress and the DMK, which contested in tandem, mopped up 37 of the state’s 38 Lok Sabha seats.
The YSR Congress of Mr Reddy, the 46-year-old son of the late Chief Minister YS Rajashekar Reddy, had won a huge mandate both in the state assembly and the Lok Sabha. In the assembly, they pushed out N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telegu Desam party, winning 152 of the 175 seats. Out of the state’s 25 Lok Sabha seats, they won 22.
Earlier today, Mr Reddy was administered oath by Governor ESL Narasimhan at a grand function in Vijayawada.
He got a hero’s welcome as he reached the venue in an open jeep with folded hands, with hundreds of party workers and supporters cheering as his convoy passed. Both Mr Rao and Mr Stalin shared stage on the event and were seen seated with Mr Reddy’s family.