With two major departments like finance and panchayat lying without any full-time ministers, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee might go for a cabinet reshuffle soon. There are indications that the reshuffle, where new faces may be given the chance, is likely to be held within this week.
In the last 11 years of Trinamool Congress rule, Banerjee did not make any changes in the two departments — Finance and Panchayat and Rural Development. With the sudden death of Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, and Finance Minister Amit Mitra’s inability to continue on as minister and MLA on health grounds, Banerjee has been left with no chance but to reshuffle the cabinet.
Earlier IANS had reported that though Mitra expressed his inability to continue on as minister, the chief minister wanted Mitra to continue as an advisor to the finance department and there are apparent indications that Mitra has consented to the proposal. Sources also indicated Mitra might be continuing as an advisor to the finance department where he will enjoy the status and power of a full-time minister.
Sources hinted that the CM might herself hold the finance portfolio and there are strong indications that Mamata Banerjee’s most trusted Chandrima Bhattacharya might be given the MoS rank in the finance department. Recently Chandrima represented West Bengal in the GST Council meetings and she might be given the additional charge, who is also MoS for health.
Mamata Banerjee might be negotiating with the finance department but her real test would be to find a suitable person for the panchayat department — the department that held the key to Trinamool’s success in the last three elections. The beneficial government schemes to rural Bengal have been mostly done through the panchayat department and rural Bengal has overwhelmingly given their support in favour of the ruling Trinamool congress.
There are also indications that Shobhandeb Chatterjee, who was the agriculture minister but had stepped down from the Bhawanipore Assembly seat to facilitate the CM to win, might get the prized posting of becoming the new panchayat minister. Chatterjee won by a margin of over 93,000 votes from Khardah in North 24 Parganas.
Udayan Guha, who won by a record margin of 1.6 lakh votes in the bye-election from Dinhata in Coochbehar district, might become a new entrant in the ministry. Goutam Deb held the North Bengal Development department in the last cabinet but after his defeat in the Assembly polls, the very important department is held by the chief minister herself. Shabina Yeasmin from Malda is the MoS of the department. Guha might become the new minister of this department.
There is another department that Mamata Banerjee will have to negotiate. Subrata Mukherjee, who was additionally holding the responsibility of consumer affairs department along with self-help group and self-employment department, after the illness of Sadhan Pandey is also lying vacant. The chief minister will also have to find a suitable person for the department. Pandey is now undergoing treatment in New Delhi.