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HindustanTimes Sat,26 Jul 2014

Eye on Panchayat polls, Mamata rejigs cabinet

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, November 21, 2012
First Published: 15:31 IST(21/11/2012) | Last Updated: 01:57 IST(22/11/2012)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reshuffled her cabinet on Wednesday, and with an eye on the coming panchayat polls, she picked several legislators from districts as her new ministers.

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"This has also brought out the energy that was being wasted on factional infighting," said a senior cabinet minister, requesting anonymity.

Elaborating, the minister said in Howrah, the infighting between Rajib Banerjee and Arup Roy is well-known. The inclusion of Rajib as the new minister-in-charge of irrigation & waterways would work in favour of the party.

"Becharam Manna has been included as minister of state for agriculture as he played a big role when the Singur movement was initiated," said the minister.

With an eye to the votes of the Matua community, the chief minister has promoted Manjul Krishna Thakur, giving him full charge of the refugee, relief and rehabilitation ministry.

From South 24 Parganas, Banerjee had earlier included Shyamal Mondal as the minister for Sunderban affairs. But on Wednesday, she replaced Mondol with Manturam Pakhira.

A similar scene was observed in Burdwan, which had witnessed a factional feud between Malay Ghatak and Rabiranjan Chattapadhya. To strike a balance between the two factions, Swapan Debnath, a neutral party, was made the cottage and small scale industry minister.

Banerjee had tried to keep some new entrants to the party happy too.

Legislators MLAs Krishendu Narayan Choudhury and Humayun Kabir, who defected from Congress to join Trinamool Congress, were awarded the tourism and animal resource development portfolios. While Choudhury was made the minister-in-charge, Kabir was named the junior minister.

"With this decision, she has killed two birds with one stone," the minister said. "She was not happy with the way the tourism department was functioning."

Some other ministers were removed for bad performance as well. Rabindranath Bhattacharya was removed from agriculture department and Malay Ghatak, former law & judicial minister, was given the charge.

Govt turns screws on transporters
The Bengal government has decided to issue conditional permits for buses, taxis and auto rickshaws only after owners submit an undertaking that they would not participate in strikes and bandhs.

CM Mamata Banerjee has been working overtime to send a signal that the state has turned over a new leaf in the work culture under her regime.

During the strikes on February 28 and September 20, she ensured that government employees attended work under the threat of salary cut.

Leaders of opposition parties, however, reacted sharply to the move.


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