A little more than a fortnight after storming out of the ruling alliance at the Centre, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has firmed up on a plan to put the talents of her party's erstwhile central ministers to use elsewhere in the state. Accordingly, Mukul Roy, Dinesh Trivedi, CM Jatua, Saugata Roy, Sisir Adhikari, Sudip Bandhopadhyay and Sultan Ahmed will now be employed as advisers to a number of state government departments.
The group will be under the chief minister's direct supervision. Although the instructions have not yet been confirmed in writing, one of the advisers told Hindustan Times that none of them would be given an honorarium or car privileges.
"A week ago, she (Mamata) told us we had to assist the state's ministers and officers in improving departmental functioning," CM Jatua, former minister of state (MoS) for information and broadcasting in the UPA-II government, told Hindustan Times.
Jatua has been given the task of improving the Sunderbans development department headed by Shyamal Mondal. Former railway minister Mukul Roy has been asked to advise the transport department. Roy met state transport minister Madan Mitra at the state secretariat on Friday.
Welcoming the new arrangement, Mitra said Roy had promised to help him overhaul the department's overall functioning.
Of the other former Union ministers on the advisory board, Sultan Ahmed, who was MoS (tourism) in the UPA, will now advise the minority development department which is under Mamata's direct supervision.
Dinesh Trivedi, Mamata's first choice as railway minister who was forced to resign by his party chief soon after presenting the railway budget earlier this year, will now oversee the functioning of the tourism department which is under Rachpal Singh.
Saugata Roy has been asked to oversee the industry department which is under Partha Chatterjee, while Sisir Adhikari, former MoS, rural development, has been assigned the task of overhauling the panchayat and rural development department. Sudip Bandopadhyay has been asked to advise the urban development department, which is under the stewardship of Firhad Hakim.
According to Jatua, the members on the new advisory board have the power to convene meetings whenever required.
But, till Friday evening, no appointment letters, or any written communication delineating their responsibilities and powers, had reached them. Mamata's latest decision has come under sharp criticism from leader of the opposition in the state assembly Suryakanta Mishra.
"It's a ridiculous plan. When in New Delhi, these seven MPs only worked in accordance with the chief minister's instructions. So, how are they going to advise the ministers here and who will listen to their advice?" Mishra said.