In a preview of the National Democratic Alliance’s future contours should Narendra Modi ever get to head it, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Indian National Lok Dal chief Omprakash Chautala, the warring Thackeray cousins and Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athavale attended the Gujarat Chief Minister’s swearing-in at the sprawling Sardar Patel Stadium here on Wednesday.
But the presence of mostly old and some new supporters was evened out by the absence of key players that the Bharatiya Janata Party will need to keep within the “NDA and fellow travellers” fold if it is to hope to come to power in 2014: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U), who is part of the NDA, and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, whose BJD left the NDA before the 2009 elections. Both leaders, who see Mr. Modi as a polarising figure, kept away. The Asom Gana Parishad, another potential NDA invitee, also remained unrepresented.
Sources said Mr. Modi made concerted efforts to bring in Mr. Patnaik but failed. NDA convener and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, too, gave the function a miss. The JD(U) contested the Gujarat elections alone and won one seat.
Raj Thackeray of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena were among the prominent attendees, as was Mr. Chautala and Mr. Athavale, whose parties are now not part of the NDA.
Uttar Pradesh industrialist Subroto Roy, known to be close to the Samajwadi Party that rules the State, was seen warmly greeting BJP leaders. Apart from the BJP’s top national leaders — L.K. Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley — senior BJP leader from Bihar C.P. Thakur, who had objected to Mr. Modi calling Union Minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar a “50 crore girlfriend” was also present. However, Sushil Modi, the BJP’s top leader from Bihar and the State’s Deputy Chief Minister, kept away.
Seven cabinet rank ministers and nine ministers of state were sworn in along with the chief minister. Two senior ministers in the outgoing cabinet, Vajubhai Vala, who has been a finance minister nine times, and Narottam Patel, a veteran leader from south Gujarat, have been dropped.