Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee, who ended the
uninterrupted 34-year reign of the Left in West Bengal, on Friday
scripted history when she was sworn in as the first woman
Chief Minister of the state at the head of a Trinamool
Congress-Congress coalition government.
The 56-year-old leader was sworn in as the 11th Chief
Minister of the state at an impressive ceremony here by
Governor MK Narayanan, who also administered the oath of
office and secrecy to her.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President
Sonia Gandhi, who were invited by Banerjee for the ceremony,
did not make it to the function which was attended by Union
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Union Home Minister P
Along with her, 37 MLAs - 35 from Trinamool Congress
and 2 from ally Congress - took oath as ministers of the
two-tier ministry. Four of the Trinamool Congress MLAs were
sworn in as Ministers of State.
Contrary to speculation, Mukherjee`s son Abhijit, who
was elected as an MLA, failed to make it to the ministry.
Clad in a simple white sari and wearing a tricolor
`uttariya` (long scarf) that has by now become her trade
mark, Banerjee took the oath in Bengali in the name of God.
Partha Chatterjee, Deputy Leader of the Trinamool
Congress Legislature party, former FICCI Secretary General
Amit Mitra and WBPCC chief Manas Bhunia and CLP leader
Abu Hena were among those who were inducted into the Cabinet.
While Mitra, a TC MLA who quit as FICCI general
secretary, was alloted Finance portfolio, Chatterjee will be
the Industries and Parliamentary Affairs Minister.
Banerjee, who left the Congress in 1997 to form her
own party to take on the Left, took the oath exactly at 1.01
pm, a time chosen by her in the presence of over 3,000 guests
including the defeated Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya
and Left Front convener Biman Bose.
After the swearing-in, Banerjee took everyone by
surprise when she hit the road to go to Writers Building to
assume office, a distance of 1 km, that took a long time as
she was caught in the milling crowds that wanted to have a
glimpse of her and greet her.
After holding a cabinet meeting, the Chief Minister
announced that the government would return 400 acres from the
abandoned Tata Motors plant in Singur to farmers who
unwillingly parted with their land.
She also said if Tatas are interested to set up a
factory on 600 acre in Singur, they are welcome.
Former Finance Minister Ashim Dasgupta and former
Assembly speaker HA Halim were among those who attended
the ceremony that lasted for one hour and 35 minutes. Former
Governor Viren J Shah was also present.
Film actors Prasenjit, June Malia and singer Sandhya
Mukherjee were among the other invitees to the ceremony
throughout which the Trinamool Congress leaders kept shouting
slogans hailing Banerjee.
Captains of industry including Sanjiv Goenka, Harsh
Neotia, SK Roy, Sanjay Budhia, Sandipan Chakraborty were
present. Also present were sports administrator Jagmohan
Dalmiya, sports personalities Chuni Goswami and PK Banerjee.
Chidambaram walked to the dais after the ceremony and
Subrata Bakshi, state party president, Subrata
Mukherjee, party vice-president, Sadhan Pandey, senior leader,
Rabindranath Bhattacharjee, MLA from Singur, Manish Gupta,
former chief secretary, and Upen Biswas, a former CBI
Additional Director, took the oath.
Two former IPS officers, Rachpal Singh and Hyder Aziz
Sawfi and playwright Bratya Basu were also sworn in.
Besides Banerjee, Sabitri Mitra of the Trinamool
Congress will be the other woman in the Cabinet.
Mamata sat on the dais all through the swearing-in.
After the ceremony, she had a meeting with the governor.
Most of the cabinet ministers took the oath in
Bengali, except Firhad Hakim and Javed Ahmed Khan who took it
in English, Abdul Karim Chowdhury in Urdu and Sukumar Hansda
Karim Chowdhury, HA Sawfi, Firhad Hakim and Abu Henna
took the oath in the name of Allah. Upen Biswas took the oath
in the name of Buddha.
Shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, the chief
minister joined the governor for tea.
Earlier, huge crowds gathered on both sides of the
road from Kalighat to Raj Bhavan and waved and blew conchess
as Banerjee`s convoy drove by.
The police erected barricades along the Council House
Street to Writers` Buildings and before the Eden Gardens.
Special arrangements were made to sanitize a two-km radius around Raj Bhavan, Shahid Minar and the state secretariat Writers` Buildings.
The ceremony commenced at 12.55 p.m. with the rendition of the national anthem and the event lasted for around one hour and 15 minutes.
Four giant screens were put up at the Shahid Minaar for people to witness the event. Besides, Rabindra Sangeet was also played during the occasion, as desired by the TMC leader.