A pilgrim spot? No, it's Mamata's home
The sound of conch shells and ululations filled the air. Mamata Banerjee's single-storey house at the dingy Harish Chatterjee Street in south Kolkata almost turned into a pilgrim place as people thronged in thousands to congratulate her today, as she became West Bengal's first woman chief minister.kolkata Updated: May 20, 2011 15:39 IST
The sound of conch shells and ululations filled the air. Mamata Banerjee's single-storey house at the dingy Harish Chatterjee Street in south Kolkata almost turned into a pilgrim place as people thronged in thousands to congratulate her on Friday, the day she became West Bengal's first woman chief minister.
People started flooding the Kalighat area from early morning. Chants of Maa Maati Manusher Jai (victory of mother, motherland and people) - Banerjee's pet slogan - and 'Mamata Banerjee Zindabad!' could be heard. Supporters wearing Trinamool caps and T-shirts stood on both sides of the road beating drums while hundreds danced with joy.
The admirers came from across the state, including far off districts, to be part of a historic event in Bengal's politics - the swearing in of the eighth chief minister and one who had dislodged the ruling Left Front after 34 years.
"I have been here since 7 a.m. to get a glimpse of her," said a man who had come from Barrackpore in neighbouring North 24 Pargans.
"But I have been waiting for this moment for the past 34 years," said a man who had come from Burdwan to see Banerjee.
Seven-year-old Rupsha Debnath said: "I am here to shake hands with Didi."
Mir Kamaluddin, a juggler, had come from Sankrail in Howrah on a bicycle with a ball on his head to honour the leader. "I have a request for Didi. If she can provide me an opportunity to display my juggling skills at the Raj Bhavan."
He will cycle the whole day carrying a ball on his head in front of her residence.
To mark the occasion, a tram has been decorated with garlands and balloons and banners.
A banner in front depicted Banerjee in front of Writers' Buildings and said: "Welcome our beloved chief minister" while one at the back read, "Greetings to Maa Maati Manush." One more banner read, "Agriculture is our inspiration, industry our conscience."
As Banerjee stepped out of her house at 12.35pm to head for the Raj Bhavan seven kilometres away for the swearing in, there was a mad rush. She shook hands with as many people as she could. People showered flower petals as the 56-year old moved towards her car.
Before boarding her usual black Santro car instead of the official bullet-proof vehicle, she said to the maddening crowd: "You all have been waiting since morning. I was too busy; I wanted to meet you all. You have chosen me. It's all because of you. You all keep well. Bless me so that I can work for your welfare."
"I will not meet you for the next seven days as I have to work for you all through the week. Then I will meet you once a week and listen to your problems and grievances. All this will be done in a systematic manner ensuring transparency. You will later get to know when and where I will meet you," said Banerjee.
Before boarding the car, she said: "I need to see my mother once more". And went back to her spartan home to seek her blessings.
She left for Raj Bhavan at 12.40 p.m. along with her sister-in-law as well as Trinamool leader Gautam Sanyal. The security personnel had a harrowing time controlling the crowds.
For many in Bengal, such a day had arrived after 34 years.