The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM suffers labour pain

Calcutta, May 14: The CPM’s problems with ministry formation go beyond Asim Dasgupta and Subhas Chakraborty. The party has not yet been able to find a person to put in the important labour minister’s chair.

“Labour is one of the key portfolios that has to be overseen by a senior person, associated with trade union activity. But nobody has yet been chosen,” said a CPM source.

Mohammed Amin, labour minister in the outgoing cabinet, lost the election. He, like his predecessor Shanti Ghatak, is a trade union veteran.

In a twist or irony, a party whose backbone had been the labour movement, is now unable to find someone with a trade union background to become minister.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had been thinking of putting Subhas Chakraborty, the CPM’s problem child and transport minister in the outgoing cabinet, in labour. Chakraborty is vice-president of the state unit of Citu, the CPM’s labour arm.

Labour is important because of the state’s large number of closed factories. It is getting to be more important as Bhattacharjee carries forward his industrialisation drive.

As of tonight, the party had not taken a decision on the portfolios of Dasgupta (now finance) and Chakraborty. Bhattacharjee, CPM state secretary Biman Bose and Jyoti Basu had an inconclusive meeting this morning. “We have convened a secretariat meeting tomorrow,” Basu said.

“There is no problem about them. Everything is okay with Asim, so it is with Subhas,” he added.

Does he mean their portfolios will not change' “When I say everything is okay with the two, I mean they will be provided with key departments. I am not saying they will retain their portfolios.”

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