On a cold January night in 1993, a central minister was dragged out of the Writers’ Buildings. She was on a dharna in front of the chief minister’s office, seeking justice for a mute girl who was assaulted.
The minister, a woman, was dragged to the nearby Kolkata police headquarters at Lalbazar. Squatting on road outside the building after she was released, she made a promise: “I will never enter Writers’ Buildings, unless I oust the CPM from here.”
On a sunny afternoon 18 years later, she entered West Bengal’s seat of power, riding on people’s mandate. For Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal’s new chief minister, it was mission accomplished. For Kolkata, it was nothing less either, and the city erupted in a frenzy beyond par.
Banerjee was sworn in at 1.01 pm on Friday at Raj Bhavan. And after her 33 cabinet ministers and four ministers of state took the oath, it was time to meet the people.
Cancelling the grand plans of tea with 200 exclusive guests, she chose to walk the half-kilometre distance to Writers Buildings shortly after 4 pm.
What happened next was unprecedented — the security cordon was breached and norms were thrown to the wind. The crowd pressed in, and Banerjee herself almost got strangled with her shawl and lost a slipper.
Inside the Writers’, the high security restrictions was breached as hundreds pushed in. Policemen, bureaucrats and media persons jostled for space.
It was late in the evening that Banerjee could get down to business.
Returning 400 acres of land will be one of the top objectives of the new government. “We have decided to hand over 400 acres from the Tata Motors project to the farmers who want it back. The Tatas can use the 600 acres if they want to,” she said.
On minorities’ upliftment
The chief minister also promised to uplift the condition of minorities. “We will prepare a package according to the recommendations by Justice Sachar. It will be very helpful if he comes to our state,” Banerjee said.
On political prisoners
A re-look will be taken at the case of all political prisoners. The new government will form a review committee comprising a former judge and human rights activists.
On forces in Jangalmahal
The CM was non-committal about her long-standing demand for withdrawal of joint forces from West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. “Our government has decided to draw up a special package to set up schools, colleges and hospitals in Jangalmahal.”