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In PHOTOS: When Didi kept her date with history

Last updated on: May 20, 2011 21:35 IST

In PHOTOS: When Didi kept her date with history

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On Friday, Mamata Banerjee took oath as Bengal's first woman chief minister. Keeping her vow of 18 years, she set foot in Writer's Building. On this historic day Indrani Roy Mitra captures the mood in Kolkata Here's a first person account.

When cricketer Sourav Ganguly led Team India at the Eden Gardens the stadium was filled with cries of 'Dada! Dada!'.

On Friday, spontaneous cries of 'Didi! Didi!' were heard around Kolkata's Raj Bhavan and Writer's Building.

Traffic came to a standstill and crowds flooded the streets as the city geared up for an historic event -- the swearing-in of Mamata Banerjee as Bengal's first woman chief minister.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee marches to Writers Building
Photographs: Samir Sen
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When Didi kept her date with history

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On January 7, 1993, Mamata Banerjee, then a Youth Congress leader, stormed Writers' Buildings and sat on a dharna in front of the chamber of then Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, demanding justice for an alleged rape victim.

As she refused to budge, the police caught her by the hair, dragged her out and locked her up. A humiliated and wailing Banerjee had then vowed that she would only return to Writers' when elected chief minister.

Around 16.30 hours on Friday, when the Trinamool Congress chief entered Writers' she fulfilled that pledge.

Having spent more than 34 years in Kolkata, I never witnessed a mass frenzy of the kind I saw on Friday. There were people everywhere, some blowing conch shells, some crying bande mataram and a few singing 'We shall overcome', albeit out of tune. It was an unforgettable experience

Never ever did have I heard of a chief minister getting off his/her car and walking to the seat of power on her first day in office.


Image: Hundreds thronged the streets as Banerjee walked to the Writers' Building
Photographs: Samir Sen
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When Didi kept her date with history

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But then, here we are talking of Mamata Banerjee, an agent of poriborton, the much-hyped term that almost became synonymous with the just concluded West Bengal asembly elections.

With the 'charisma' of the girl-next-door, Banerjee and her party the Trinamool Congress successfully instilled into the minds of the people a sense of protest against the bane of the age-old Left Front regime. But having done that and having put an end to the Front rule after more than three decades, she has also generated gargantutous expectations.

And Banerjee's elaborate promises to propagate do-it-now principle, to work 24x7 to understand the state of affairs of the administration and to hold a Janata Darbar once every week only magnified them. If she keeps these promises, Bengal would change for the better but what if she fails?

Let's hope she doesn't and let's wish that a new regime succeeds in establishing peace and harmony in the state. We can't but agree with what a veteran state government employees' federation leader told rediff.com soon after Banerjee took over the reins, "We are tired of violence and bloodshed. Our new chief minister's first step should be to counter hostility and establish peace."


Image: Banerjee waves to crowds from Writers' Building
Photographs: Samir Sen
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