Mamata Sworn in, regional leaders presence sparks speculation on Federal front
Mamata Banerjee was sworn in as the chief minister of West Bengal for the second consecutive term on Friday.
A galaxy of political heavyweights attended the oath taking ceremony held at the Indira Gandhi Sarani or the Red Road.
The guests from New Delhi included union ministers Arun Jaitley and Babul Supriyo, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Other invitees included Mamata’s counterparts Akhilesh Yadav and Nitish Kumar from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad were also spotted among the list of invitees.
Presence of other chief ministers of anti-BJP camp has given rise to talk of revival of federal front to take on BJP.
But Mamata Banerjee was guarded in her response when she was asked about the relation between her party and centre soon after election victory.
Lalu Prasad Yadav has said after Bihar it is Mamata who defeated BJP
Foreign guests who attended the event which began at 12:45 pm included Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Bangladesh Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu.
The jumbo ministry has ministers 42, including the chief minister. This is seven more than the strength of the previous government led by Mamata.
The new cabinet includes three women and seven members from the Muslim community. “All castes, religion and districts, except Malda, will have representation in the cabinet,” Mamata said. “We don’t have any lawmaker from Malda,” she told reporters after submitting the list of her council of ministers to the Governor on Thursday.
Former Indian cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla, noted singer Indranil Sen and Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee are among the 18 new faces sworn in as ministers.
Shukla, who played three One Day Internationals for India and also led the Bengal cricket team, joined the Trinamool ahead of the assembly polls.
Two retired IPS officers Abani Joardar and James Kujur, Gulam Rabbani, Bachchu Hansda, Jakir Hossain, Sandhyarani Tudu, Shaymal Santra and Rabindranath Ghosh are the other new inductions.
The other fresh faces include Abdur Rezzak Mollah, Suvendu Adhikary, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, Churamoni Mahato, Tapan Dasgupta, Siddiqullah Chowdhury and Asima Patra.
Mollah, a long time minister in the Left Front government was expelled by the CPI(M) in 2014. He joined the Trinamool ahead of the assembly election.
Sovan Chatterjee, the mayor of Kolkata since 2010is said to be close to the chief minister.
Chatterjee was among the several TMC leaders who had figured in the Narada sting video, accepting cash for favours. Firhad ‘Bobby’ Hakim who was the urban development minister in the previous government was also caught accepting cash from a journalist posing as a businessman in the Narada sting video.
The state unit of the BJP boycotted the event to protest post-poll violence. “We are boycotting tomorrow’s swearing-in ceremony. When our workers are being attacked throughout the state, how can we join the swearing-in ceremony?” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh had said on Thursday.
The Congress and the Left parties also boycotted the ceremony.