Mamata ushers in Cabinet changes

Ushering in significant changes within the state Cabinet, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday took away the industry portfolio from Partha Chatterjee and gave it to Finance Minister Amit Mitra.

Besides introducing two new faces, she also made some other changes to the Council of Ministers on Thursday.

While sources had indicated that Chatterjee, who held the three portfolios of industry, IT and parliamentary affairs and was likely to lose IT, taking away the prestigious department came as a surprise for everybody, although not unlikely with Mamata. “Chatterjee will continue to manage the other two departments, besides playing a bigger role in the party as its general secretary,” she said after the Cabinet reshuffle.

According to industry sources, the decision of Mitra replacing Chatterjee was received with enthusiasm. “Mitra’s proximity to industrialists since a stint as FICCI secretary-general is likely to help him do a better job than Chatterjee, who failed to get any major investment since the party came to power in 2011,” a senior official said.

During a recent assessment meeting of all ministers, Mamata expressed dissatisfaction over poor performance of industry department, among others. The changes have also been noticed by the chambers of commerce, who feel that these go on to prove that unlike media reports, Mamata means business. Besides the big-ticket change, Banerjee also introduced Sashi Panja as Minister of State for women & child welfare with independent charge.

Panja was hitherto the parliamentary secretary, helping with women, child and social welfare. Forest Minister Hiten Burman was replaced with new entrant Benoy Krishna Burman after the incumbent tendered his resignation on health grounds. Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, who was in charge of public works department (PWD) and environment, has been relieved of duties for health reasons although he will return to take back environment, which will be temporarily looked after by Upen Biswas.

PWD has gone to Shankar Chakraborty, another new entrant. Mamata also made changes in the departments of MSME & textiles, animal husbandry, land reforms, planning and statistics and cooperative. While the swearing-in ceremony was held at the Raj Bhavan in the presence of Governor M K Narayanan, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung also took fresh oath as the chief executive officer of Gorkha Territorial Administration.

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