Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did not attend the swearing-in of HD Kumaraswamy as the chief minister of Karnataka today as the BJD maintains an equal distance from the Congress and the BJP, a party leader said.Patnaik, who is the BJD president, did not attend the swearing-in in Bengaluru.”It is obvious that the BJD, a purely regional outfit, has nothing to do with the national parties like the Congress and the BJP,” BJD general secretary Arun Kumar Sahoo said. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, N Chandrababu Naidu, and Pinarayi Vijayan, her counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala respectively, were present at the event. The BJP boycotted the ceremony and observed a “Black Day”, holding statewide protests against the new coalition government, which it called “unholy”.On Patnaik not attending the event, Sahoo said, “For the last 18 years, the chief minister has not attended the swearing-in ceremonies in any other state.” “He is also busy with the second phase of ‘Save Mahanadi’ campaign launched by the BJD as well as the state government’s Ama Gaon Ama Bikas programme,” he said. Sahoo avoided questions on whether any representative was sent to the swearing-in function.BJD sources said though Patnaik maintained the “best of relationships” with former prime minister H D Deve Gowda’s family, he preferred to avoid Kumarswamy’s swearing-in so that he was not seen in the function along with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. The recent statements by two senior Congress leaders Bhakta Charan Das and Sarat Rout also put Patnaik in a fix. The two had publicly said that the Congress was not averse to joining hands with the BJD to keep the BJP out of the power in Odisha, where state assembly polls are due next year.
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