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 M K 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 Chidambaram.

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.

Cabinet team

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 allotted 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.

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.

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 in Santhali.

Karim Chowdhury, H A Sawfi, Firhad Hakim and Abu Henna took the oath in the name of Allah.  Upen Biswas took the oath in the name of Buddha.

Surprises post swearing-in

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.

Mamata’s guests

Former Finance Minister Ashim Dasgupta and former Assembly speaker H A 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, S K Roy, Sanjay Budhia, Sandipan Chakraborty were present. Also present were sports administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya, sports personalities Chuni Goswami and P K Banerjee.

Chidambaram walked to the dais after the ceremony and congratulated Banerjee.

Mamata sat on the dais all through the swearing-in. After the ceremony, she had a meeting with the governor.
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 conches as Banerjee's convoy drove by.

The police erected barricades along the Council House Street to Writers' Buildings and before the Eden Gardens.

(Agencies)

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