PANCHKULA: Parkash Singh Badal, whose SAD had campaigned against BJP in Haryana, today attended the swearing in of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar but outgoing CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda was conspicuous by his absence.
The Punjab Chief Minister was under fire from BJP leaders after the SAD leadership, including Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, had campaigned against the saffron party nominees during the Assembly elections.
86-year-old Badal was among the dignitaries who reached the venue - Sector 5 HUDA ground - quite early, but not much pleasantries were exchanged between him and the top BJP leadership present there.
Outgoing Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda did not attend the function saying he had not received an invite.
"I did not get the invite. Had I got one, I would have thought over it (whether to attend)," Hooda told reporters.
A Haryana government release later clarified that the office of Deputy Commissioner, Rohtak, had delivered an invitation card at his residence at Rohtak on October 25. "The invitation was delivered by an official of Rohtak DC's office at about 1 PM on October 25, 2014," it said.
Apart from this, one chair was exclusively reserved for the outgoing Chief Minister on dais, the release said, adding Hooda's name also figured among dignitaries who were to receive the Prime Minister at Chandigarh airport.
Om Parkash Chautala-led INLD, which was the principal opposition, was represented by Abhay Chautala.
Abhay arrived at the venue after all dignitaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi were seated on the dais and the national anthem was in progress.
He was stopped by the security personnel till the national anthem was over. He then went to the stage, but not from the side from where all VVIPs had walked in.
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan was among non-BJP leaders who attended the ceremony.
Prime Minister Modi, veteran BJP leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP President Amit Shah, Chief Ministers of BJP ruled Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan were present.
At the end of the function, Khattar exchanged pleasantries with the dignitaries and touched Advani's feet to seek his blessings.
Senior BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had hit out at Akalis for tying up with INLD against BJP, too was present.