Finance Minister, former FICCI secretary-general Amit Mitra to take care of Industry
In one of the biggest reshuffles in the two-and-a-half-year-old Trinamool Congress rule in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee relieved Partha Chatterjee from charge of the Industries and Commerce and Industrial Reconstruction Departments, and handed over the portfolios to Finance Minister and former FICCI secretary-general Amit Mitra on Thursday.
The development comes before the coming Lok Sabha elections and when the Trinamool government is trying to project an industry-friendly face without damaging its pro-farmer image.
Another interesting development is that Becharam Manna, who was a key leader in the Singur movement against forcible land acquisition, has been given additional responsibility as Minster of State for Land. He now holds the portfolio of Minister of State for Agriculture and Agriculture Marketing.
Explaining the change in the Industry portfolio, Ms. Banerjee told journalists after the swearing-in at the Raj Bhavan that Mr. Chatterjee was flooded with departments and she wanted him to devote more time for party activities.
Mr. Chatterjee retains the charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Information Technology departments.
In what she described as “adjust and readjust,” Ms. Banerjee inducted two new faces in her Council of Ministers and changed or gave additional charge to at least seven Ministers.
Shashi Panja, MLA from Shyampukur in the city, was also sworn in as a Minister of State with Independent charge and given charge of the Women and Child Development Department
Binay Burman, an MLA from Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar district, is the new Forest Minister, replacing Hiten Burman, who tendered his resignation.
Ms. Banerjee also created a new department of Textiles and appointed Shyamapada Mukherjee as its Minister. Mr. Mukherjee was in-charge of the Child Development Department.
Minister of State for Small Scale Industries Swapan Debnath was promoted to the rank of Minister of State with Independent charge and assigned the Department of Animal Husbandry.
Other ministers whose departments have been changed are Rachpal Singh, who will hold Cooperation; Nure Alam Chowdhury, who has been given charge of Statistics and Programme implementation.
Citing illness of Minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, the crucial department of PWD has been handed over Sankar Chakraborty. Mr. Dastidar retains Environment.
Ms. Banerjee said she had tried to give representation to every district and representatives of every caste and community in the reshuffle.