Didi's Writers' tryst 18 yrs after being thrown out

Didi's Writers' tryst 18 yrs after  being thrown out

Soon after being administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor M K Narayanan, Banerjee, heralding herself as a “commoner” and the “peoples’ chief minister”, walked from Raj Bhavan to Writers’ Building amid a sea of humanity that had gathered to watch her assume charge at the state secretariat.
As she stepped into the imposing red state secretariat building, it was also a redemption of the promise she had made on January 7, 1993, when, as a minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, she was driven out of Writers’ building after she stormed it along with a pregnant deaf and dumb girl who was allegedly raped by a political worker belonging to a Left party. The then chief minister Jyoti Basu had refused to meet her that day.

On Friday, clad in a simple white sari, which became her trademark in the election campaign that finally trounced the 34-year-old Marxist regime of the Left Front, the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan was held precisely at 1:01 pm, a time chosen by Banerjee because she considered it auspicious. Banerjee and a majority of the 40-member Trinamool Congress and Congress nominees for Cabinet berths took their oath in Bengali.

Banerjee, who left her Kalighat home in south Kolkata after seeking the blessings of her mother Gayetri Devi, drove straight to Raj Bhavan in a black Santro car shortly before 1 pm following a visit to the Kalighat Temple close to her Harish Chatterjee Street residence. A huge crowd greeted her before she managed to enter the Raj Bhavan amidst cheers and slogans.

Among the invitees to the swearing-in ceremony were former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, former finance minister Asim Dasgupta and Left Front Chairman and CPM Politburo member Biman Bose.

She graciously held up her hands in a “namaskar” greeting the three CPM leaders who, during their heyday, would bitterly attack her politically.

Among others present were Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony who offered a special gift from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. A large number of dignitaries from various walks of life graced the occasion. Of the 38-member Council of Ministers, 34 are of Cabinet rank while the rest are ministers of state. The Congress, the smaller partner in the coalition, has two representatives in the Cabinet.

Five of three former IPS officers, who contested the election on Trinamool tickets, were included in the Cabinet. Also in Banrjee’s ministry are Amit Mitra, who has been given charge of Finance and her trusted aide Partha Chatterjee has been given Industry and Parliamentary Affairs portfolios.

At the first press conference after occupying the chief minister’s chair at Writers’ Building, Banerjee said her government would prepare a special economic package for the people of Maoist-hit Jangalmahal and was serious about solving the problem within three months.

Asked to comment on her demand for withdrawal of the joint forces in the Maoist-infested districts, Banerjee said, “I will cross check and let you know.” She said that a committee would be formed soon for a case-by-case review of the release of political prisoners in the state. “A 10-member expert committee will soon be formed for case-by-case review of political prisoners for release,” Banerjee said, adding that Writers’ Building would have a Chief MInister’s Office on the lines of the Prime Minister’s Office in Delhi. She, however, said she would not use any bullet-proof cars.

The Trinamool supremo, who was virtually mobbed as she walked to Writers' Buildings, promised transparency in administration and her endeavour to solve people's problems as much as she could. “I expect people to come forward with their problems and I will do my best to solve them,” she said. Expressing her gratitude to people for voting her party to power, she said. “I wish peace will reign in Bengal and I seek your blessings to run the government smoothly and serve the people.”

Promising to work without a break for a week to keep herself abreast with the latest state of affairs of Bengal, she told a large crowd before leaving for Raj Bhavan that she could not afford to avail any “weekly offs” as a financial bankruptcy has been staring at the face of the state and the accummulate debt has crossed more than one lakh crore.
That she meant business right from day one, was evident when former FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra who defeated the finance minister Asim Dasgupta, took charge of the finance portfolio without any formal announcement from the chief minister and held a series of meetings with finance secretary and other top officials on Friday at the state secretariat.

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