Riding high on the party’s success in the West Bengal civic polls, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is hopeful of an additional Minister of State (MoS) berth in Mammohan Singh’s union council of ministers.
“The issue has been left hanging for a year. My feeling is that the PM will induct MoS from the Trinamool when he next expands the cabinet,” Trinamool leader and MoS for Tourism Sultan Ahmed told HT.
“The DMK — UPA coalition’s third-largest coalition partner — has three cabinet berths, while the Trinamool has only one, despite being the government’s second-largest coalition partner. This is rather odd,” a senior party leader said.
Trinamool leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya is believed to be among the front-runners for induction in the union council.
The candidature of former Janata Dal (U) leader and Independent MP from Banka, Digvijay Singh, is also not being ruled out. Singh functioned as Banerjee’s MoS in the Railways during her first term.
Banerjee’s remark recently that her “task as Railways Minister would have been easier, had she had MoS like Singh” had fuelled talk on Singh’s entry into Trinamool. However, a section of the party is opposed to this.
“With some independent MPs, Digvijay Singh has applied for recognition as a separate group in Lok Sabha. Speculations that he will join the Trinamool and be inducted as MoS have now been put to rest," claimed a Banerjee aide. Singh was unavailable for comment. Since Banerjee’s rich harvest in the civic polls, there has been talk that she will quit the Railways job soon. At a rally last month, she even hinted at plans to quit and work in the state.
“What she meant was if she becomes CM she would quit the Railways job,” said an advisor of Banerjee. She has indicated the party would continue to hold the Railways portfolio. Names of Ministers of State Mukul Roy and Dinesh Trivedi figure in the possible replacements list.
Among the lucky civic polls victory fallout is a New Delhi address for the party — 1B, Maulana Azad Road.