Mamata makes No. 2 shed important portfolio
Partha Chatterjee, considered the second most powerful person in West Bengal cabinet after chief minister Mamata Banerjee, was stripped off his commerce and industries portfolio in a major ministerial shake-up today.india Updated: Dec 26, 2013 23:53 IST
Partha Chatterjee, considered the second most powerful person in West Bengal cabinet after chief minister Mamata Banerjee, was stripped off his commerce and industries portfolio in a major ministerial shake-up on Thursday.
Dr Amit Mitra will replace Chatterjee and also retain his original portfolio as the state finance minister.
Chatterjee is the secretary general of the Trinamool Congress and he also briefs the media about the party and state government affairs.
Though he retains information technology and parliamentary affairs departments, observers believe he has been dropped from the industry portfolio because he failed to woo industrialists to invest in the state and Mamata had been unhappy about it.
At the same time, industry watchers said Chatterjee had no bargaining room to woo investors because of policy constraints.
By divesting Chatterjee of the portfolio, the chief minister wants to send out a message that her government was serious about showcasing the state as an investment destination, especially before the Lok Sabha polls.
Mamata, however, told reporters she wants to utilise Chatterjee in the party organisation in a bigger way.
“As the parliamentary affairs minister, he is the face of the party in the state assembly. I do not want to over-burden anyone with too many departments,” she said.
Mamata’s dissatisfaction over Chatterjee’s performance is learnt to have increased when told by land and land revenue (L&LR) department that it had enough land to suit the industry’s needs.
The L&LR department is being held by the chief minister herself.
An official said Chatterjee’s call for relaxing the rigid land and special economic zone (SEZ) policies had further irritated Mamata.
While the state land policy rules out any kind of state role in procurement land for industry, the state has taken a rigid stand against granting of SEZ status to any industry irrespective of land requirement.
Reacting to the development, Chatterjee said, “Only god knows what I did and the public will decide how I performed.”