In a deviation from the usual venue of Raj Bhavan, the event of May 27, will be held on the Red Road, one of the arterial roads in Kolkata that houses the Fort William where the Army is headquartered. And, it will remain blocked for at least five days, probably more. Ishita Ayan Dutt reports.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee appears to be taking a leaf out of Franklin Roosevelt's book.
The American President had said: "We are going to make a country in which no one is left out." Banerjee is working towards a Bengal where no one is left out of anything, especially when it comes to some kind of celebration.
In her first innings as the chief minister of West Bengal, Banerjee had made a mass event out of an elite Kolkata Film Festival, what had deeply hurt the sentiments and sensibilities of the Bengali bhadralok, with the props of the event changing from the likes of Jafar Panahi to the Bachchan family, Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma.
The idea was to change the character and scale of the event. This time, Banerjee has decided to change the scale once more, but for the swearing-in ceremony of her government.
In a deviation from the usual venue of Raj Bhavan, the event of May 27, will be held on the Red Road, one of the arterial roads in Kolkata that houses the Fort William where the Army is headquartered. And, it will remain blocked for at least five days, probably more.
Among the dignitaries who have confirmed presence are: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, leading to speculation whether the foundation for a Third Front is being laid.
The Union government is likely to be represented by urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu.
Kolkata Police had announced earlier in the week that the road would remain closed from May 23 to 29, or till the dismantling process is over. The Red Road is rarely blocked; the vehicles are kept off the road on the eve of Republic Day or Independence Day -- the only two events held there -- for rehearsals.
Banerjee had announced the day poll results were announced that the swearing-in ceremony would be held on the Red Road. But why Red Road?
"It's the scale of the mandate. This event is for the public," explains Trinamool’s national spokesperson Derek O'Brien.
Arrangements are being made to seat 25,000 people, but how many supporters of the 'Ma Mati Manush' party will turn up is anybody's guess. It could well be several thousands.
"It's symbolic. The idea is to go beyond the upper tiers of society," says political analyst Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury.
Three stages are being built across the road in yet another aberration; the stages for the Republic Day and Independence Day programmes are along the road, not across.
The swearing-in would be held on the main stage while dignitaries would be seated on two interconnected stages.
The stages are a mesh of steel structure and here, too, Banerjee's favourite blue and white stripes are peeking; dismantling the structure is likely take longer than usual. Till then, the Red Road will remain out of bounds.