Mamata Banerjee was on Sunday formally elected Trinamool Congress Legislature Party leader and said pre-poll ally Congress would be part of her “small” ministry. Two days after her party stormed to power with three-fourths majority, ending 34 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal, the name of 56-year-old Banerjee as TCLP leader was proposed by Subrata Bakshi.
The formality of her election was completed at Maharashtra Niwas hall in south Kolkata where all the 184 newly-elected Trinamool Congress MLAs were present. Addressing the meeting, Banerjee said she was happy that the Congress had submitted a letter of support to a Trinamool Congress-led ministry to Governor MK Narayanan. “We will also submit a letter to the Governor (with the list of supporters),” she said. She said that her ministry would be small in size and Congress and SUCI would take part in it. SUCI, which won one seat, has been requested to join the ministry, she said. “SUCI has said it will let us know,” she said.
Partha Chatterjee was elected deputy leader and Sobhandev Chattopadhyay Chief Whip. Jyotipriya Mullick was elected Treasurer.
Railway Minister Banerjee, who is a member of Lok Sabha from a Kolkata constituency, will have to get herself elected to the state Assembly within six months. She is likely to contest from a constituency in south Kolkata, TC sources said. “People have voted us to power to end Left Front misrule of 34 years and it is our foremost responsibility to respect the verdict, honour the mandate and keep our promises,” Banerjee said, dedicating the success of the Trinamool Congress to the victory of ‘Ma, Mati and Manush (Mother, Land and People).’ “This massive electoral success, the second victory of independence has been possible because of those who love us, support us and assist us,” she said, adding that the party’s victory rally would be held at Brigade Parade Ground on July 21. Stating that she remembered the martyrs of the party with tears in her eyes, she said, “I am grateful to the struggling people of Singur, Nandigram, Netai, Mongalkot, Chamkaitola….. who fought to uphold their democratic rights which were trampled by the Front government.
Small martyrs columns should be set up in the state in memory of those who sacrificed their lives at the hands of CPI(M) all these years, Banerjee said. Banerjee said she totally disapproved of violence and revenge and told her MLAs, “Don’t fall into the trap they (CPI-M) may set and I ask you not to encourage unrest. I instruct you to ensure that none is assaulted or beaten up and no party office set on fire. They (CPI-M) beat us, injured us, killed us, torched our houses, and committed many crimes on our people. But people voted them out and it is the right punishment given to them,” Banerjee said. She said life was more precious than gold or diamond and added, “If the CPI(M) beats us, we will not retaliate.”