Updated: October 8, 2021 5:40:00 am
In a departure from tradition, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday administered the MLA’s oath to Mamata Banerjee after she won the Bhabanipur bypoll by a record margin to retain her chief minister’s post. Usually, the Assembly Speaker administers the oath to MLAs.
After the swearing-in ceremony, the two exchanged pleasantries over tea at the Speaker’s house. “It’s a historic moment,” the governor said as he left the Assembly.
The Opposition MLAs, however, skipped the oath-taking ceremony.
After narrowly losing the Nandigram Assembly battle to her aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhkari, Banerjee, as per the rules, had to seek re-election as an MLA within six months of taking oath as chief minister.
Just in the run-up to the Durga Puja festivities, the Election Commission scheduled the Bhabanipur bypoll as well as elections to the Samsergunj and Jangipur Assembly segments in Murshidabad district on September 30.
The Trinamool chief cruised home by more than 58,000 votes, surpassing her earlier winnng margin from this seat.
The Trinamool made it a clean sweep, winning the two other seats with handsome margins as well.
The newly elected legislators from Samsergunj and Jangipur — Amirul Islam and Zakir Hossain — were also administered their oath on Thursday.
There were uncertainties around Banerjee’s swearing-in after the governor said he wished to read her the oath instead of the Speaker.
According to the rules, the Speaker can administer the oath to an MLA with permission from the governor. Going by the norms, the Raj Bhavan permission was sought on October 4 for the swearing-in of the new members. However, the governor refused to sanction the date for the event as he wanted to administer the oath himself.
The rules stipulate that the governor will administer the oath of office to the chief minister and other members of the cabinet at the Raj Bhavan while the Speaker will do the same for other MLAs in the Assembly. However, the governor is vested with the discretionary power to visit the Assembly and read the oath to legislators.
Previous governors in West Bengal had vested that power in the Speaker in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution. Dhankhar, this time, withdrew that right.
After the oath-taking ceremony, state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee offered a cup of tea to the governor to which he agreed. Thereafter, Dhankhar visited the Speaker’s chamber along with the chief minister, Chatterjee and Speaker Biman Banerjee. They spoke for almost half-an-hour.
Later, Chatterjee seconded governor in calling it a historic moment and also criticised the BJP MLAs for their absence.
“They talked about forming the government but if they don’t know the courtesies of an Opposition, how will people trust them as a ruling party?” Chatterjee said.
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