The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM slap for six laggards
- Silence on health, harsh words for IT and education at appraisal

Calcutta, Jan. 22: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today reviewed the performances of his ministers and asked several cabinet colleagues, including information and technology minister Manab Mukherjee, to pull up their socks.

Backed by the CPM leadership, Bhattacharjee asked Mukherjee, also in charge of environment, Kanti Biswas (school education), Satyasadhan Chakraborty (higher education), Sailen Sarkar (food processing and horticulture), Anisur Rahaman (animal resource development) and Kironmoy Nanda (fisheries) to put up a better show.

The first five are from the CPM while Nanda comes from Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, almost a non-entity in Bengal.

The slap on the wrists of the ministers follows reports that the chief minister, on a green signal from the party, is planning to shuffle his ministers, as part of which Mukherjee might be relocated to a less important department. As things stand now, Mukherjee’s twin portfolios would be split and given to others.

“You, as ministers in charge of certain key departments, should be more active and take special care in implementing government policies,” Bhattacharjee said at the appraisal meeting that spanned nearly three hours and was attended by top CPM leaders like Jyoti Basu, Biman Bose and Anil Biswas. Fifteen ministers placed reports on the performance of their departments.

The meeting was called in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections as the Left Front plans to highlight the Bhattacharjee government’s achievements in its quest for a rich haul. Two more reviews will take place between now and the elections.

Interestingly, neither Bhattacharjee nor the party leadership, which issued a statement on the outcome of the meeting, made any mention of the performance of health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra. He left the meeting early on urgent work.

Industry minister Nirupam Sen was praised for creating a conducive environment to back up Bhattacharjee’s industrialisation drive.

Bhattacharjee told the ministers and party leaders that about 19,000 job opportunities had been created in the plastic and its allied industries. “We have to ensure speedy investment in this sector so that we can create more opportunities for employment.”

The chief minister was particularly critical of the of the education departments and the public distribution system. “We have to improve the standards of education… our ministers should initiate speedy measures to take advantage of the various state and central schemes.” Biswas attended the meeting, but Chakraborty could not as he was indisposed.

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