Kolkata: Due to the increase of Covid cases in the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took oath alone leaving a lot of speculation about her new council of ministers slated to swear in within a couple of days. Top placed sources in Trinamool Congress indicate that with more than 50 elected MLAs being new there is a possibility of new faces as ministers.
There were altogether 44 council of ministers last time, of whom 28 were cabinet ministers and 16 were ministers of state.
Interestingly enough this time Mamata Banerjee will have to form her cabinet leaving nine ministers of her former cabinet, including three heavyweights — Finance and Industry Minister Amit Mitra, Tourism Minister Goutam Deb and Technical Education Minister Purnendu Basu.
While Mitra and Basu had decided not to contest in the polls, Deb lost to BJP’s Sikha Chatterjee Dabgram-Phubari constituency in North Bengal.
Apart from that three Trinamool ministers left the party before elections — heavyweight state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari and Forest Minister Rajib Banjerjee.
Minister of State for Sports Lakshmi Ratan Shukla also left the party. Among the three Shukla didn’t contest election, Banerjee was defeated and Adhikari won against the chief minister in the Battle of Nandigram.
There are three other ministers — North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh, Western Zone Development Minister Shantiram Mahato and Minister of State for Panchayat Shyamal Santra — who were defeated in this election.
According to the sources in the party, Banerjee would face the toughest challenge in choosing a replacement for Mitra who single-handedly managed finance and industry for the last 10 years.
“Chief Minister had immense faith on Amit Mitra and she gave a free hand to Mitra which proved to be beneficial for the state. With the absence of Mitra it will be difficult for her to manage her finance. Presently it is handled by one of the retired bureaucrats but that is not a permanent solution,” a senior cabinet minister told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
However, there are some names that are making rounds who might finally manage a berth in the ministry.
Akhil Giri of West Midnapore and former IPS Huamyun Kabir has the most possibility. Giri — a devout opponent to Suvendu Adhikari and his family has been instrumental in reviving the lost space of Trinamool Congress in West Midnapore where the party won 13 out of 16 seats. This MLA from Ramanagar in East Midnapore might get a reward for his performance in the district.
Senior Trinamool leaders are of the opinion that their supremo might bring some new faces from the district to give an appropriate reply to the allegation raised by BJP that the party is ruled by some people of Kolkata.
The names that top the list are Santhali actress Birbaha Hansda who won from Jhargram and Pradip Majumadar who won form Durgapur East Constituency in West Burdwan district.
Apart from that, Humayun Kabir who resigned from his government job and won from East Midnapore district, former transport minister Madan who won from Kamarhati assembly constituency might ensure a berth in Mamata Banerjee’s council.
Manas Bhuniya — the Rajya Sabha MP from Sabang in East Midnapore who won from Sabang Assembly constituency might get his reward for his unflinching gratitude towards the chief minister.
Ratna De Nag who is from Pandua constituency in Hooghly and cricketer-turned-politician Manoj Tiwary who won from Shibpur Assembly constituency also might manage a berth in the ministry.
By Saibal Gupta