Mamata takes over Bengal reins, walks history road (Roundup)May 20th, 2011 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, May 20 (IANS) As tens of thousands crowded the streets of this grand old city and millions more watched on TV, Mamata Banerjee made history Friday by becoming the first woman chief minister of West Bengal, breaking 34 years of uninterrupted Left rule in the state.
Clad in her trademark white sari and rubber slippers, a beaming Banerjee was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor M.K. Narayanan at the Raj Bhavan here in a ceremony attended by more than 3,000 invited guests.
Alongside Banerjee, 33 cabinet ministers and four ministers of state were also sworn in, exactly a week after her Trinamool Congress-led alliance made the Left Front bow out of power by winning 227 seats in the 294-member assembly.
There were milling crowds at Banerjee’s residence in South Kolkata’s Kalighat, on the seven-kilometer route to and outside Raj Bhavan, where the programme came to an end to the strains of Tagore’s immortal song “Nai, nai bhoi”, as per her wish.
After the swearing-in, Banerjee walked the distance from Raj Bhavan to the state secretariat, Writers’ Building, about two kilometres away, amid swirling crowds, instead of going in a car like her predecessors of the Left Front era.
People rushed from all directions, police barricades gave way, and security personnel were in a tizzy. Over the entire route, Banerjee shook hands with the masses and exchanged pleasantries.
The 56-year-old Trinamool Congress chief becomes the state’s eighth chief minister and the first non-Left front leader to occupy the post since Congress leader Siddhartha Shankar Ray’s government was formed in 1972. She took her oath in Bengali at 1.01 p.m., a time she had herself chosen in the belief that it was auspicious.
Among those present were union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, former state chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Left Front chairman Biman Bose and other top leaders of the opposition combine.
The ceremony presented a rare sight of Banerjee, Bhattacharjee and Bose gracing the same function in a state known for its sharp political polarisation.
Thirty-one of the cabinet ministers were from the Trinamool, and two others from Congress - which would later announce five other ministers of state. Apart from Banerjee, the council of ministers has only one woman - Sabitri Mitra.
Among the Trinamool ministers are Partha Chatterjee, economist and former FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra and former minister Subrata Mukherjee.
State Trinamool president Subrata Buxi, Singur legislator Rabindranath Bhattacharya, theatre personality Bratya Basu as also three retired Indian Police Service officers - Upen Biswas, H.A. Sawfi and Rachpal Singh - also took oath, as did former chief secretary Manish Gupta, who humbled Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Jadavpore.
Lawmakers from the minority community, including Firhad Hakim, Javed Khan and Abdul Karim Chowdhury, also took oath.
The two cabinet ministers from the Congress were Manas Bhuniya and Abu Hena.
Thirty-four of those sworn-in took the oath in Bengali, two in English, and one each in Santhali and Urdu.
Banerjee later met Governor Narayanan. “I will talk to him once a week. We will work for the people of the state,” Banerjee said.
Celebrations broke out across the state with Trinamool supporters bursting crackers and exchanging sweets.
In the morning, the sound of conch shells and ululations filled the air and Mamata Banerjee’s single-storey house at the dingy Harish Chatterjee Street almost turned into a pilgrim place as people thronged there.
Chants of ‘Maa Maati Manusher Jai’ (victory of mother, motherland and people) - Banerjee’s pet slogan - and ‘Mamata Banerjee Zindabad!’ could be heard.
At the Raj Bhavan, the guests included leading industrialists like Sanjiv Goenka, writers Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay and Mahasweta Devi, and a Who’s Who of politics, business, art, sports and culture.
Representatives from the working classes, including rickshaw-pullers, farmers, slum-dwellers and representative organisations of sex workers and the disabled, also graced the function.
Relatives of the victims in Singur, Nandigram - synonymous with peasant protests against farmland acquisition that changed the poll script in favour of Trinamool - and Netai, the site of an alleged Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) activists, were also present.
They were witnessing history - having helped Banerjee make it.
–Indo-Asian news Service
- Mamata takes over Bengal reins, walks history road (Intro Roundup) - May 21, 2011
- West Bengal gets its first woman chief minister (Lead) - May 20, 2011
- Mamata to be sworn in as West Bengal chief minister Friday (Roundup) - May 20, 2011
- Mamata tsunami sweeps away 34 years of Left rule in Bengal (Night Roundup) - May 14, 2011
- Tight security for Mamata's swearing-in - May 19, 2011
- Mamata tsunami sweeps away 34 years of Left rule in Bengal (Roundup) - May 13, 2011
- Left Front leaders to attend Mamata's swearing-in - May 20, 2011
- Mamata meets West Bengal governor - May 13, 2011
- Governor, chief minister spar - nothing new for Bengal (West Bengal Newsletter) - Jan 29, 2012
- Mamata inducts two new ministers - Jan 16, 2012
- Timeline of Left Front government in West Bengal - May 13, 2011
- Mamata inducts five Congress ministers - Jun 03, 2011
- Mamata Banerjee sworn in as West Bengal chief minister - May 20, 2011
- Buddhadeb, Biman, Mamata at same function - at long last - May 20, 2011
- Trinamool stakes claim, Mamata elected legislature party leader (Roundup) - May 16, 2011
Tags: cabinet ministers, congress chief, congress leader, history road, home minister, kalighat, kilometer route, member assembly, milling crowds, ministers of state, pleasantries, police barricades, pranab mukherjee, raj bhavan, rubber slippers, song nai, state secretariat, trinamool congress, union finance minister, west bengal