Karnataka: Preparations for CM's swearing in at Sri Kanteerava Stadium
Preparations for CM elect Siddaramaiah's swearing-in are frenetic as other Opposition leaders but relatively low-key—just tricolour banners, placards and bunting, and a sharper eye on the traffic
Amid celebratory chants, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) headquarters on Queen’s Road bustles with party workers bearing banners. On the other side of the road is a stately hoarding—the KPCC president smiles cheerfully on it. From the outer circles of Cubbon Park, the chief minister-to-be beams from circular hoardings.
A few miles away, Vittal Mallya Road is decorated with hoardings of Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Sonia Gandhi. Sampangi Rama Nagar is similarly dressed.
However, the rest of Bangalore remains quietly sparse. There is a humility and quiet dignity about this—the swearing-in ceremony is no show of strength or might.
In the May 10 elections to the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, the Congress bagged 135 seats, while the erstwhile government, the BHaratiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 66 seats. On the 20 May, at 12:30 pm, Congress leader and CM-elect Siddaramaiah will take his oath to formalise the transfer of administrative powers.
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A google search for the Sri Kanteerava Outdoor Stadium shows that it can seat about 40,000 people. “We’re expecting close to 1 lakh people,” one police officer told the National Herald.
“We’ve sent out invitations to MK Stalin, Omar Abdullah, Mamata Banerjee… We’re expecting the Gandhis and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge tonight,” sais KPCC General Secretary L Narayan to the National Herald.
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel has reportedly arrived in Bengaluru. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has confirmed his attendance, as have Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. Prominent Politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury has also reportedly arrived in Bengaluru at the time of writing. Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has designated All-India Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Kakoli Dastidar to attend on behalf of the party, per TMC leader Derek O'Brien's tweet on Friday evening.
Over the years, several political rallies, public meetings, and gatherings have been organized by various political parties and leaders at the stadium. It has served as a venue for political campaigns, party conventions, and addresses by prominent politicians.
At the stately entrance of the stadium, the traffic police discuss security details for the big day. Managing traffic in the city is a gargantuan task on any given day, but on an important day like this, it is positively swimming against the tide. A fleet of news vans is already parked at the entrance to the stadium.
“Earlier, Dr. Ramalinga Reddy was here, examining the place,” says another police officer. Reddy is the current working president of the Karnataka wing of the Indian National Congress. He was elected as an MLA from BTM layout. “We’ve been preparing the place for the celebrations since last night,” the police officer added.
At 36 degrees Celsius, Bengaluru is experiencing some of its hottest days, and the trend is expected to continue through the big day. But big trucks with hoards of workers have been coming into Kanteerava for the past two days. When the stage is ready, its occupants will see some of Bengaluru’s celebrated buildings along the skyline—UB City, ITC Gardenia and the likes. The front few rows, where the who's who of politics are to be seated, is decorated in pristine white. Behind these seats are an array of TV cameras pointed at the stage where the governor of Karnataka, Thawar Chand Gehlot, will swear in the new chief minister, Siddaramaiah.
Named after Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, the multipurpose sporting stadium in the heart of Bengaluru teems with sporty citizens of all ages using it for practice.