Defining paribartan

Mamata Banerjee claims she's the leader for change. Now is her opportunity to prove the point.

Just a few moments before 1.01 pm on the sunny, humid afternoon of 20 May in Kolkata, Chief Minister-designate Mamata Banerjee did something quite extraordinary. Before taking the oath of office at this designated auspicious time, she walked up to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, whom she was about to replace as chief minister, as well as the other top leaders of the Left Front that had ruled West Bengal for 34 long years, and greeted them with a formal namaste. This was a remarkable gesture in a political landscape that has long been marred by personal innuendo and lack of political courtesy.

West Bengal voted for paribartan, or change, and the new chief minister believes that she is the agent of that change – in all respects. As such, she had sent her personal emissary to invite the outgoing chief minister for her swearing-in ceremony. 'There are many things to change,' Mamata told this reporter in Kolkata. 'Showing courtesy to my political opponents is definitely one of them. They have insulted me every day, but I cannot make that mistake. Kolkata was once the seat of culture in India, but we have lost all that – you know the culture that the Left Front propagated. But make no mistake: we will regain Kolkata's earlier status.'

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