Kolkata: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee was on Friday sworn in for a second consecutive term as West Bengal chief minister at a grand public ceremony witnessed by thousands of supporters as well as eminent personalities.
Attired in a simple white sari and white stole, Banerjee was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi in a ceremony held at the city's historic Indira Gandhi Sarani (Red Road), a wide boulevard that bisects the Maidan.
Banerjee, the state's eighth chief minister and the first woman to occupy the post, took her oath in Bengali, and in the name of "Ishwar and Allah".
She dedicated the event to "Ma, Mati, Manush" (Mother, land and people", Banerjee's pet slogan.
Along with the chief minister, 41 other ministers were also sworn in. The ministerial council has 18 fresh faces, including former Indian cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla, city mayor Sovan Chatterjee, noted Bengali singer Indranil Sen, veteran Trinamool leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, and Marxist-turned Trinamool lawmaker Abdur Rezzak Mollah.
Twenty-eight of the ministers were of cabinet rank, five ministers of state (independent charge) and eight ministers of state.
Chatterjee, Chattopadhyay and Mollah got cabinet berths, while Shukla and Sen were made ministers of state.
Three of the ministers are women, seven belong to the Muslim community, while the Scheduled Caste and tribe communities also got several representatives.
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Amit Mitra, Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay and Joardar were the first group of ministers to be administered the oath by the governor after the chief minister. The other ministers were then sworn in in batches. A number of them were seen touching Banerjee's feet after taking oath.
All the ministers took their oath in Bengali, except Golam Rabbani, who preferred Hindi.
Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay was among the guests who graced the occasion as well as Bangladesh Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu. Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Babul Supriyo were present as well as chief ministers -- Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, Akhilesh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar's Nitish Kumar. Former chief ministers -- Jammu and Kashmir's Farooq Abdullah and Bihar's Lalu Prasad were also present.
Ex Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, leading figures from the Bengali film industry, frontline industrialists of the state, members of the diplomatic corps also attended the function.
Thousands of people braving the intense heat assembled under the open sky to watch Didi (elder sister - as Banerjee is fondly called) begin her second innings at the helm of the eastern state.
The state's opposition Left Front and state units of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) boycotted the function in protest against the attack on their activists, allegedly by ruling Trinamool Congress, during the polls.
Banerjee had taken over as chief minister for the first time on May 20, 2011 when she led an alliance of Trinamool Congress, Congress and Socialist Unity Centre of India- Communist to a huge win in the state assembly polls, ending 34 years of Left Front rule.
In the recent assembly elections, Banerjee led the Trinamool to a landslide, with the party winning 211 seats - well above the two-thirds majority mark of 196 - to retain power. The Congress-Left Front alliance won 77 seats in the 294-member house. The BJP and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha got three seats each.
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Shukla, who played three One Day Internationals for India and also led the Bengal cricket team, joined the Trinamool ahead of the assembly polls and won from the Howrah North constituency. Once he takes oath on Friday, he will become the first sportsperson to become minister in West Bengal.
Chatterjee, the mayor since 2010, is considered extremely close to Banerjee.
Asked whether the metropolis will now get a new mayor, Banerjee said: "Why? He may get a portfolio which is linked to his post."
Mollah, a longtime minister in the erstwhile Left Front government, had formed a new party in 2014 following which he was expelled from the CPI-M. He joined the Trinamool ahead of the assembly election.
Another notable including in the ministry is influential minority leader Siddiqullah Chowdhury, who won the election from Mangalkote in Burdwan district.
Banerjee said those who have not been included this time would be used for other important work.
"We can have upto 44 ministers. But, 42 of us will take oath. All districts, except Malda, have been represented in the ministry. We don't have any lawmaker from Malda. We have taken into account lot of factors including caste and creed," she said.
Another district which does not have any representation is Darjeeling, as Trinamool had drawn a blank there.
Banerjee said it would take some time to allocate the portfolios.
Announcing that the swearing-in-ceremony was dedicated to 'Ma, Mati, Manush (mother, land and people)', Banerjee said 19,000 chairs would be kept for the ordinary people, who can occupy them on first-come, first-served basis.
The state government has also made arrangements for giant screens to be installed on the road.
The opposition in the state - the Left Front, Congress and the BJP - have announced a boycott of the function protesting against alleged violence perpetrated on them by the Trinamool.