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Mamata issues model code
Dos and don’ts for Trinamul ranks

Calcutta, May 15: Mamata Banerjee today asked her supporters not to “beat up anybody” and laid down a code of behaviour, seeking to allay one of the biggest fears the mammoth mandate has triggered amid sporadic instances of vendetta in the districts.

“Do not beat up anybody. It is very easy to beat up someone…. The CPM goons had beaten me so many times, now the people of Bengal have taught them a lesson,” Mamata said in her first full-fledged address after the election results.

Her pinpointed appeal for peace, while addressing all 184 MLAs of the Trinamul Congress at Maharashtra Nivas today, seemed to be the answer to a recurring question she faced on the campaign trail: will the CPM cadre raj be replaced by a more belligerent Trinamul enforcer?

Slipping into the role of a moral science teacher, Mamata listed a set of dos and don’ts at the legislature party meeting that formally chose her the leader (see chart).

The guidelines were issued to the MLAs — over 80 per cent of whom would be first-timers in the Assembly — but a senior leader said the norms applied to all party supporters. Mamata expects the MLAs to carry the message back to their constituencies.

Acutely aware of the burden of expectation as well as the hawk eyes that will not miss any misstep, Mamata reminded her MLAs: “People are watching us at every step. We have to work for the people. I will be happy the day I can fulfil the aspirations of the people.”

Mamata also reached out to thank the political workers of all parties for having maintained law and order. “In the areas where sporadic violence is taking place, I will request the perpetrators to stop,” she said. Five people have been killed since the results were declared.

Mamata’s code of conduct has some features that suggest she wants to keep her supporters from interfering in the lives of others. Such intrusions — publicly admitted by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during the elections when he said the “nagarik samaj” (civil society) should be left alone — was one of the main factors held responsible for the CPM’s alienation.

Mamata also touched upon what she had focused on during the campaign, drawing derision from the Left that felt she was making impractical promises. “Hospitals will come up in the areas where I have promised to build them. That is my public commitment. I will revisit the areas that I had promised to in my campaign,” she said today.

Mamata is likely to keep the health and education portfolios with her. She would be assisted by ministers of state, likely to be picked from Trinamul and the Congress.

Mamata iterated her wish to start off with a small cabinet. “I will start with a small cabinet. There is no need to rush with the entire cabinet. Once the new policies are framed, we will increase the size,” Mamata said.

According to Trinamul insiders, the number of cabinet ministers could be between 8 and 10, with around 8 to 10 junior ministers to help them. The outgoing Left government has 43 ministers.

Mamata, who reached Delhi tonight to invite Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to the swearing-in, will finalise the number of portfolios to be offered to the ally after the discussions in the capital. “There will be representatives from minorities, women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The ratio has to be maintained,” Mamata said.

Deputy leader

Mamata has named Partha Chatterjee the state’s first deputy leader of the House in 59 years. The last time the Bengal Assembly had a deputy leader was in 1952 when Mani Kuntala Sen of the CPI held the post.

Trinamul leader Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay has been made the government chief whip and Jyotipriya Mullick, the MLA from Habra, will be the treasurer.

Chief secretary Samar Ghosh said he had received a notice dissolving the Assembly from the governor. Ghosh said the Raj Bhavan was yet to confirm the swearing-in date.

Sources said the date would be set after Mamata had ascertained the availability of the Prime Minister and Sonia.

Mamata said in Delhi she would meet Sonia and Singh tomorrow. “It’s a historic occasion. So I want them to attend (the swearing-in),”she said.

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