Kolkata, May 27:
In an apparent crackdown on ministers in whose areas of influence the Trinamool Congress fared dismally in the recent Lok Sabha polls, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday divested two of them of their portfolios and snatched an important department from another.
Sabitri Mitra, who was in charge of the social welfare department, has been made a minister without portfolio, while Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury, who long held the tourism portfolio, has been shifted to food processing and horticulture.
Subrata Saha would also now become a minister without portfolio, with Banerjee divesting him of the food processing and horticulture departments, which were under his ambit so long.
Both Chowdhury and Mitra hail from north Bengal’s Malda district, where the Trinamool came up with a poor show in both the seats – finishing third in Malda North and fourth in Malda South.
One of the reasons for Trinamool’s lacklustre performance in Malda is said to be intra-party feuds, with the two ministers leading rival factions. In the aftermath of the poll results also, the duo had engaged in a war of words, blaming each other for the debacle.
An enraged Banerjee, the Trinamool chief, subsequently summoned both the ministers to the state secretariat and is understood to have given them a piece of her mind.
The Trinamool has lost all the three seats from Murshidabad district, Saha’s political arena. The party finished third at Jangipur and Murshidabad. It got the second place in Baharampur, but its candidate Indranil Sen lost by a massive 3.56 lakh plus margin to state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
Soon after the poll results were out, Banerjee ordered Agriculture Minister Moloy Ghatak to put in his papers, as she seemingly held him responsible for the defeat of her handpicked nominee Dola Sen from Asansol.
Education Minister Bratya Basu has been allocated tourism, said to be high on Banerjee’s scheme of things.
Partha Chatterjee, considered the number two in the cabinet, would be the new education minister, besides continuing with his old portfolio of parliamentary affairs.
He, however, lost the important Information Technology department to Amit Mitra, on whom Banerjee is reposing more and more trust in her efforts to revitalise the state’s economy.
Starting as finance minister in 2011, Mitra was given the plum industries, industrial reconstruction and public enterprise departments last year. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the former FICCI secretary general was also made the party’s national spokesperson.
Women and Child Development Minister Sashi Panja has been entrusted with the additional charge of social welfare.