A blue and white high-rise in the dusty industrial township of Howrah was the cynosure of all eyes on Saturday, as it became the seat of the Mamata Banerjee government. Chief Minister Ms. Banerjee started her work from the building that will house her office and certain other important departments for some time now.
The 14-storied Hooghly River Bridge Commissionerates (HRBC) building on the west bank of river Hooghly was decked up to welcome the Chief Minister who received a guard of honour and hoisted the tricolour before entering it. Ms. Banerjee has named it Nabanna (a new crop of paddy).
Ms. Banerjee arrived to the sound of bugles and conch-shells, accepting the greetings of waiting Ministers and senior officials. Alongside the seasonal flowers (kash phool- a feathery white bloom which marks the advent of autumn), were elaborate security arrangements with large police force, dog squads and fire-tenders.
The mega event was reminiscent of another occasion on May 20, 2011, when Ms. Banerjee walked to the `Writers Building’ from the Raj Bhavan after being sworn in as the Chief Minister -- a watershed moment in the State's politics.
Though the shift may not be politically significant but it marks a new chapter in Ms. Banerjee’s administration at least from a perspective of a changed locale.
“Today is Nabanna’s birthday. I have come to greet you with sweets,” Ms. Banerjee told journalists in her first appearance at the press corner of the new-administrative building after visiting other government departments in the high-rise.
She also tried in vain, to interact with the journalists before aborting the effort in the wake of chaos unleashed by jostling photo and TV journalists.
The Chief Minister’s office is located on the buildings top floor in contrast with her first-floor office at `Writers’ Buildings’ where media found it easy to track her movements or get a quick reaction.
In stark contrast stood the `Writers’ Buildings’ which had housed the Chief Minister’s office since independence. It bore a forlorn look, sans its people and its power.
The 18 century building is being vacated for restoration and renovation.