Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was on Friday sworn in as West Bengal’s chief minister for the second time. Forty-one others also took oath as her ministers.
Banerjee and her ministers administered the oath of office by governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on a stage set up on the city’s prime thoroughfare at 12.45pm, a time chosen by the ruling party chief herself.
Banerjee, the state’s eighth chief minister and the first woman to occupy the post, took her oath in Bengali. In 2011, Banerjee - Bengal’s first woman chief minister - was sworn in at the Raj Bhavan after she overthrew the 34-year-old Left Front regime from power.
The ceremony took place in the presence of around 5,000 invitees drawn from among the top names in international and national politics, industry and the world of art and culture.
A galaxy of political leaders was present at the ceremony. Among them were Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and DMK leader Kanimozhi.
The Trinamool chief called on Tripathi at the Raj Bhavan on Thursday and handed over to him a list containing the names of her 41 ministers.
Former Bengal cricket captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, singer Indranil Sen, retired police officers Abani Mohan Joardar and James Kujur and CPI(M) leader-turned-Trinamool MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah were part of Banerjee’s team.
Shukla, 35, was the Bengal cricket team captain and also played for IPL teams KKR, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Now, he is a member of the Mohun Bagan cricket team.
There were 18 new faces, one of whom is Churamani Hansda, who was a member of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, an outfit that collaborated with CPI(Maoist) in the state.
Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee, a close lieutenant of the chief minister, was also named as a minister.
“Sovan will be given a portfolio related to his present assignment at the KMC,” Banerjee said.
In the list of ministers were four women, including the chief minister. The cabinet will also have seven Muslim faces.
The face that stood out in the new team is that of Mollah, an eight-time CPI(M) MLA and land reforms minister in the Left regime, who was a severe critic of former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industry minister Nirupam Sen. He had openly spoken out against the Bhattacharjee regime’s acquisition of land in Singur and Nandigram.
The district with most ministers - seven - is South 24-Parganas, followed by Kolkata - five - and North 24-Parganas - four. Darjeeling and Malda will have no representation in the cabinet because the Trinamool drew a blank in those districts.
Banerjee was to leave for the secretariat, Nabanna, to chair her first cabinet meeting right after taking oath and was likely to be tied up with a rash of engagements.
Banerjee, according to sources, is also likely to interact with media persons at the Press Corner on the first floor of Nabanna.
(With agency inputs)