Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Friday, May 20, 2011

A green carpet welcome for Mamata

I was at the Raj Bhawan to witness the oath ceremony of Mamata Bannerjee's government. The Kolkata's hub around the Governnor's House turned into a sea of humanity.
Earlier, I had witnessed the swearing-in ceremony of Buddhadev Bhattacharya government and also other such functions of the BJP and Congress governments in Karnataka and Rajasthan and on one occasion a function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan
But never ever have I seen such excitement and euphoria among the people as was evident at the Raj Bhawan in Kolkata today. It will be etched in my memory forever.
The green and while pandal and most conspicuous of all, a green carpet welcome for Mamata, set up a perfect ambience for the occasion where more than 3000 guests were invited. 
At the swearing-in function at Raj Bhawan
I went to the Raj Bhawan with Nabaneeta Dev Sen (picture) and Prosenjit Chatterjee and decided to sit a few rows from the front anticipating that the weather would get hot and humid. There were arrangements for enough number of fans but there weren't any coolers as reported by some of the dailies.
While entering I met Bratya Basu and H A Safwi's family members. As the swearing-in function progressed I got up for a brief chat with Harsh Neotia and also exchanged greetings with Mamata Shankar, Pradip Bhattacharya, Abdul Mannan, Nayantara Pal Choudhury, Jogen Choudhury, Rachana Bannerjee and others.
The excitement all around was not just about the regime change after 34 years. People were curious and eager to have a glimpse of Mamata as she walked from the Raj Bhawan to the Writers' Buildings. Everything was the same. The same protocols, police, government officials, rituals except for the look in the people's faces. I think this is what Parivartan is all about.
Mamata had once talked about transforming Kolkata to a city like London. Mamata's walk to the Writers' Buildings today reminded me of Tony and Cherie Blair, who, on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament which followed a few days after the 1997 election, had walked from Downing Street to the Parliament soaking up the cheers of the crowds while the Queen arrived in her royal coach. Their decision had upset the Queen who, in a rare rebuff, had asked them not to do it again.
After the ceremony, Mamata was on her way to have tea with the Governor. As she crossed us she very affectionately put her hand on Nabaneeta di's hand. While we were waiting for the car, I met Derek O'Brien and our new minister, Amit Mitra, who respectfully touched Nabaneeta di's feet.
There were so many people from all walks of life and cross sections of society. I met them and while greeting them it looked like I was in some very big party where all the celebs, who, for a change, were drawn by Mamata's appeal. I also met many of my old acquaintances after a long time who inquired where I had been as they had not seen me in the Kolkata circuit in recent times.
I hope the new government would fulfil the people's expectations and put Bengal's growth on a fast track.
ess bee

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