Congress MLAs Manas Bhunia, Abu Hena in the new team
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday allocated portfolios to her newly sworn-in Ministers, keeping for herself nine departments, including Home, Health, and Land Reforms. The Ministers were sworn in by Governor M.K. Narayanan at the Raj Bhavan earlier in the day.
In an announcement made around midnight, 33 Ministers were given Cabinet rank portfolios and four others were made Ministers of State with independent charge. Two Congress MLAs — Manas Bhunia and Abu Hena — are among the Cabinet Ministers.
The departments held by Ms. Banerjee include Agriculture, Power, Hill Affairs, Information and Cultural Affairs, Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education and Personnel and Administrative Reforms.
Ms. Banerjee entrusted the Finance and Excise departments to renowned economist and former Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry secretary general Amit Mitra, who has considerable experience in financial policy-making and is expected to revive the State government's ailing financial health.
The crucial Commerce and Industry portfolio went to Deputy Leader of the Trinamool Congress Legislature Party Partha Chatterjee, a close associate of Ms. Banerjee. He will have the task of projecting the new government as industry-friendly and attracting investments to shed the ‘anti-industry' tag the party earned during the Singur agitation.
Mr. Chatterjee will also have the additional charge of Public Enterprises, Industrial Reconstruction, Information Technology and Parliamentary Affairs departments.
The former State Chief Secretary Manish Gupta, who defeated the former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the Jadavpur constituency, was given charge of the Development and Planning department. Ms. Banerjee's trusted lieutenant Subrata Bakshi was allocated the Public Works and Transport departments.
The pattern in the distribution of portfolios indicate that Ms. Banerjee wants her MLAs to take responsibilities of departments which did not complement their professions, so that they did not become complacent but would strive to learn while working and aim to perform better. This perhaps explains why the former Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Subrata Mukherjee was given charge of the Public Health Engineering department and Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, who was a medical doctor, has been given Environment, and former Calcutta High Court Justice Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury has been given charge of the Animal Resources Development department.
Three former IPS officers too feature in the Cabinet list. While the former Central Bureau of Investigation joint director Upen Biswas has been allocated the Backward Classes Welfare department, the former Director General of Police H.A. Safwi and Assistant Director General of Police Rachpal Singh have been given charge of the Cooperation, Inland Water Transport department and the Tourism department respectively.
The departments of School Education and Higher Education have been allocated to Rabindranath Bhattacharya from Singur and Bratya Basu from Dum Dum respectively. Firhad Hakim has been allocated Municipal Affairs and Urban Development department, Malay Ghatak has been given Law and Judiciary and the former Naxalite Purnendu Bose who joined the party during the Singur agitation has been allocated the Labour department.
Apart from Ms. Banerjee, the only other woman MLA who finds her name in the Cabinet is Sabitri Mitra from Manikchak, who has been allocated the Women and Child Development and Social Welfare portfolio.
Among the Congress ministers, Mr. Bhunia was allocated the departments of Irrigation and Waterways, and Micro and Small Scale Enterprise and Textiles, while Mr. Hena was allocated Fisheries, Food Processing Industries and Horticulture.