‘First priority is tackling Covid-19,’ says Mamata Banerjee after taking oath as West Bengal CM
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday was sworn in as the chief minister of West Bengal for the third consecutive term. The oath of office was administered by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, ANI reported.The oath-taking ceremony was a low-key profile in view of the alarming rise in coronavirus cases. The Trinamool Congress secured a landslide victory in the state elections on Sunday, winning 213 constituencies – way beyond the majority mark of 148 – in the 294-seat Assembly.The rest of the Cabinet and the council of ministers will be sworn in on May 9, the birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, reported NDTV. Banerjee is the only woman chief minister in the country currently.After taking the oath, Banerjee said she will hold a review meeting on the coronavirus situation in the state, reported News18. “My first priority is tackling the Covid pandemic,” she said. “...I will hold a press conference at 3 pm and let you know what measures we are taking.” She said that her second priority was to tackle the law and order situation in the state and appealed to all political parties to refrain from violence. “I will be posting special officers to handle the situation,” the chief minister asserted. “We will handle the situation sternly.”The opposition parties have accused the Trinamool Congress of killing their supporters, while the TMC has also claimed its members were killed. However, there has been no official confirmation yet by the state police.At the ceremony, Banerjee defended her government on the matter, claiming that that the state was under the control of Election Commission for the past few months and she did not have any say. “There was a lot of inefficiency in the state system during this time,” she said. “I will set up a new police system today itself and tackle the violence with utmost firmness.”The governor also said that the first priority is to bring an end to the violence. “I hope the chief minister will work to restore the rule of law,” Dhankhar said.Earlier on Wednesday also, the governor raised his concerns on Twitter. “Concerned at unabated reports of unprecedented post poll retributive heart rendering violence inspite of flagging this [to] Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Police, [and] Kolkata Police,” he tweeted. “Such senseless violence shames democracy. Such collapse of law and order will neither be overlooked nor countenanced.”On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Dhankhar over the reported violence and expressed anguish.While Banerjee won the state polls and has been sworn in as the chief minister, she has lost the Nandigram seat to her former aide and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari. The chief minister has alleged “looting and cheating” in vote counting and said that she will move the court.The TMC also asked the Election Commission to conduct recounting but the request was turned down. Initial reports on Sunday had claimed that Banerjee had won the seat though the counting of votes was under progress. Later, the poll panel announced that Adhikari beat Banerjee by 1,956 votes.