Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee took oath as chief minister of West Bengal for the third time at Kolkata’s Raj Bhawan on Wednesday morning but the 50-minute ceremony was marked by reports of post-poll violence and the absence of top opposition leaders.
For the first time, no Left, Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader attended the ceremony in the state.
Banerjee was sworn-in by governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at 10.45am.
TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee, the protem speaker, will swear in other ministers on Thursday.
In his speech, Dhankhar referred to post-poll violence that has roiled the state since Sunday, when election results were declared, and resulted in the deaths of at least 12 political workers, and left several houses ransacked and party offices torched. “For the sake of people’s interest, we have to rise above partisan interest,” he said.
In her brief speech, Banerjee appealed to all political parties to maintain peace. “No violence will be tolerated. We will take stern action,” she said.
Banerjee’s nephew and TMC youth wing president Abhishek Banerjee and election strategist Prashant Kishor attended the event.
Top political leaders congratulated Banerjee after the ceremony that was curtailed due to Covid-19 cases surging in the state. “Congratulations to Mamata Didi on taking oath as West Bengal’s chief minister,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The TMC, which won 213 seats as opposed to the BJP’s 77, has announced a mega rally at Kolkata’s brigade parade grounds once Covid-19 cases reduce.
Talking to reporters after the ceremony, Dhankhar indirectly accused the chief minister of not taking any action to stop the violence.
“Please check the law and find out when the model code of conduct for the elections ended,” he said, when told about the TMC’s argument that Banerjee could not give orders to government officers as the model code was in force.
The TMC, which has accused the BJP of peddling fake news, hit back. “It is unfortunate that within 30 minutes of reading out the oath the governor attacked the government,” said TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee, who attended the ceremony.
Banerjee entered Nabanna, the state secretariat in Howrah district, at 11.40am. Top bureaucrats welcomed her with a guard of honour.
Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, whose party could not win a single seat, was at home in Murshidabad district. CPI(M) leader and Left Front chairman Biman Bose too did not attend the meeting. The Left parties also did not make an appearance. BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, whose party is now the principal opposition force, said, “I stayed away in protest against the attack on our supporters across the state.”
The TMC leadership had also invited CPI(M)’s stalwart leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee but the former CM, who is indisposed for a long time, was not able to attend the event.