Jyotirmoy Kar, Ashis Banerjee new faces in Cabinet. Purnendu Basu in charge of agriculture
In a reshuffle of the State Cabinet here on Wednesday, Moloy Ghatak - the Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA - who was recently dropped by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made a comeback.
Apart from him, two new faces were inducted in the Council of Ministers: Jyotirmoy Kar from Purba (east) Medinipur district and Ashis Banerjee from Birbhum district. Both Mr. Kar and Mr. Banerjee are senior MLAs of the party and their elevation is seen as an attempt to give more importance to leaders from the districts. The three Ministers were administered the oath of office at Raj Bhavan by outgoing Governor M K Narayanan.
The surprise of the reshuffle was the return of Moloy Ghatak.
Mr. Ghatak, the TMC strongman in the industrial belt, was dropped recently in the wake of an allegation that he sabotaged TMC's prospect in Asansol Lok Sabha seat by "ensuring" defeat of party's candidate, Dola Sen.
Many within TMC alleged that Mr. Ghatak refused to work for Ms. Sen - who is seen as an outsider in the industrial area - thus ensuring her defeat. Ms. Banerjee eventually dropped Mr. Ghatak, indicating that perhaps there was a grain of truth in the allegation against Mr. Ghatak. But Mr. Ghatak pursued his case doggedly with Ms Banerjee over the last month and finally made a comeback.
Purnendu Basu, who has been holding the Labour Department portfolio since May 2011, after the Trinamool Congress came to power in the State, has been assigned the Agriculture department. Mr. Ghatak takes over the Labour Ministry from him. The development assumes significance at a time when there is a crisis in the State’s Jute industry and tea sector, both of which are labour intensive industries. Interestingly, both Mr. Basu and Dola Sen are erstwhile Naxal leaders associated with working-class movements.
A number of incidents related to unrest in the working class have been reported in the State over past few months. Agitated workers at the Northbrook Jute Mill in State’s Hooghly district allegedly killed the chief executive officer, prompting closure of many jute mills. Besides, Hindustan Motors, a flagship company of the CK Birla group, has also ordered suspension of work a few weeks ago.
While Jyotirmoy Kar, the MLA from Patashpur in the State’s Purba Medinipur district, has been inducted as Minister in Charge of Co-operation Department, Ashis Banerjee, MLA from Rampurhat in Birbhum was appointed as Minister of State Higher Education and School Education, besides department of Ayurvedic medicine. The decision to appoint Mr. Banerjee as Minister of State is to ease pressure on State’s Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, who also holds the charge of Parliamentary Affairs Department.