If any of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's 36 cabinet colleagues thought the grind was over with the polls fought and won, they must be in shock. In her first cabinet meeting on Friday night, Banerjee extended her austerity list to the members.
While former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's 'do it now' slogan in 2006 failed to inject even little change in the work culture at Writers' Buildings, Banerjee is set to introduce professionalism and austerity measures right at the outset.
"Banerjee has clearly said we have to bring work culture back in the government from Day 1. We should lead by example. Our only job is to serve the people and rebuild Bengal fast," said state commerce and industry minister Partha Chatterjee, Ministers have been given seven days to become acquainted with their departments and prepare fresh public welfare projects. "These projects will be forwarded to her. She wants us all to spruce up our departments," a minister said.
All ministers have to be in their chambers in the state secretariat at 9:30 am. "Ministers will (have to) reach even before the employees," said a minister. "She has also said splurging over food from restaurants, inside chambers or conference rooms, is a strict no," he added. The office décor has to be simple and guests are to be treated with minimal expenditure.
Cabinet meetings will be held once every fortnight, instead of the earlier monthly meets and ministers will have to give individual reports every day, regarding the progress of public welfare projects.
Banerjee would also pay surprise visits to various departments to inspect their functioning and ministers will have to inform her before making press statements. A magnanimous Banerjee has told her ministers to treat employees owing allegiance to Left as equal as those of Trinamool.
She has asked her ministers to identify lacunae such as illegal postings and out-of-turn favours granted to officials - and refer them to her for action.
"Lethargy will not be tolerated, she told us," another minister said.