An idea is doing the rounds in the West Bengal cabinet: to replace politicians including state ministers, MLAs and MPs with in-service or former bureaucrats as chairmen of state-run corporations, firms or autonomous bodies.
A brainchild of chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself, the idea was touched upon both at the political levels in Trinamool and state cabinet circles during the last few months. Sources aware of the development said that .
“In the first phase the chief minister wants ministers in the state cabinet to quit the post of chairmen in state-run corporations, firms and autonomous bodies. In the next phase, the Trinamool MPs and MLAs would also follow the example. The chief minister is in favour of such replacements so that the ministers can concentrate more on their respective departmental assignment and the MLAs and MPs can devote more time in nurturing their constituencies,” said a member of the state cabinet.
“In fact, me and many of my cabinet colleagues are in favour of this, since many of us are overworked. So we are not viewing this proposal as any punishment. A transparency factor is also involved with the issue,” said another heavyweight member of the state cabinet.
In fact, the chief minister has already started the process of replacing the ministers with bureaucrats, with state commerce and industries minister Partha Chatterjee silently quitting the post of chairman of Greater Kolkata Gas Supply Corporation Ltd.
Current commerce and industries secretary CM Bachwat replaced him.
Chatterjee is currently holding the posts of chairman of five state-run corporations, apart from holding the post of the nonexecutive chairman of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL), a two-way joint venture between West Bengal government and The Chatterjee Group (TCG).
The cor porations where he is chairman include West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and party insiders said the chief minister wants him to quit all such chairmen posts slowly one after another.
Chatterjee is himself determined to quit the post of nonexecutive chairman of HPL, once the state gover nment completes the process of sale of its shares in the company.
Party sources said by replacing the politicians with bureaucrats in state-run corporations, the chief minister also wants to send a message that her government is different from the earlier Left Front government, which had politically monopolised such bodies by placing their men at the helm of affairs there.