Streets in Bengaluru were plastered with colourful banners congratulating Congress leader Siddaramaiah as he was sworn in as the new chief minister of Karnataka on Saturday.
Another set of posters bearing images of Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, reading ‘Welcome to Karnataka’ also dotted several streets of the capital city. Siddaramaiah was sworn in as Chief Minister for the second term, along with state Congress President D K Shivakumar as Deputy Chief Minister, and eight legislators as Ministers exactly a week after the party swept the Assembly polls in Karnataka.
The swearing-in ceremony took place after the party arrived at a consensus on government formation in the state following hectic parleys on Thursday. It was attended by All India Congress Committee (AICC) President M Mallikarjun Kharge, top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Pictures of a smiling Siddaramaiah on giant hoardings greeted motorists and other passers-by entering the Garden City from the Kempegowda Bangalore International Airport. Posters were also put up on lamp posts, pillars and even on trees in the inner areas of the city. However, the most eye-catching among them were the giant circular banners attached with tricolour-theme frills around the images of Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar by turns.
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”Congratulations for becoming CM of Karnataka Shri Siddaramaiah Ji,” reads one of these banners, showing him in king-size, besides, photographs of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Randeep Surjewala among others. Another one was bearing congratulatory messages in English and Kannada for Shivakumar.
Along some streets, the circular banners were put up in quick succession, creating a colourful effect as Congress workers and supporters streamed in from different parts of the state to witness the oath-taking ceremony. Banners and posters were put up by both Indian Youth Congress and Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress for the occasion. Many banners were put up along Sankey Road, Infantry Road, Nrupathuga Road and near various other well-known public landmarks such as YMCA, R V Circle and the Lal Bagh. They largely carried messages in Kannada. A huge banner reading, ‘Oath-taking Ceremony’ along with the images of Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar and local party leaders was also installed near the venue.
Siddaramaiah, 75, was Karnataka CM from 2012 to 2018. Shivakumar, 61, has been a minister in the state and is currently the Karnataka Congress chief. In the May 10 elections to the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, the Congress scored an emphatic victory by bagging 135 seats while the ruling BJP and the former prime minister HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) secured 66 and 19 seats, respectively.
The excitement is high among the supporters of Congress, many of whom had gathered outside the city airport in the morning anticipating to see Rahul Gandhi. ”We are very happy today, and its a big day for Congress, especially after emerging victorious in the high-stakes Karanataka Assembly polls,” said M Suresh and pointed to the front page of a Kannada daily with images of Rahul Gandhi with Siddaramaiah splashed across the page. The venue for the swearing-in ceremony was the Sree Kanteerva Stadium, and many streets around it were clogged by 11 am.
”It’s a huge traffic today, we are trying out best to manage,” said a traffic policeman on duty near Lal Bagh. Sharanappa B, a cab driver here, who hails from the Gulbarga district, told PTI, ”The excitement in Congress party and its workers is palpable. The huge round posters, particularly caught my attention while I was driving from the airport to the main city”.