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Manas party post shaky

New Delhi, May 26: State Congress president Manas Bhuniya, who has become a cabinet minister in the Mamata Banerjee-led government, will have to relinquish his party post as Sonia Gandhi is keen to implement the “one-man-one-post” policy at all levels.

Sources in the Congress said Bhuniya did not want to become a minister and had lobbied hard with the high command against joining the government. He had written to the high command mentioning why he was in favour of the Congress lending outside support to the state government. But the central leadership had overruled his suggestions.

Sonia, it is learnt, had instructed the party leadership to include Bhuniya’s name in the list of Congress’s ministerial candidates along with Abu Hena. Bhuniya had, however, wanted to continue as Bengal PCC chief, arguing that the Congress had performed well in the Assembly elections under his leadership, even winning more seats than the CPM.

His supporters had cited the example of Pranab Mukherjee, who had remained Bengal Congress chief even while holding several other posts such as leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha or a ministerial berth at the Centre at various times. But the sources said Mukherjee’s holding several posts at the same time could not be taken as a precedent as he enjoyed an “exceptional status in the party”.

The sources said that although Sonia had not yet been able to fully implement the one-man-one-post policy, the decision to remove Bhuniya as Bengal unit chief had been taken.

Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik continue to hold party posts despite being in the central cabinet. Kantilal Bhuria, the central tribal affairs minister, became the Madhya Pradesh PCC president two months ago. Bhuria, the sources said, would have to step down as minister when the next cabinet shuffle takes place in June.

In Bengal, the high command is looking for a replacement for Bhuniya. The appointment may happen soon after the swearing-in of the Congress’s five ministers of state. The names of the ministerial candidates will be conveyed to Mamata by early next week, the sources said.

The high command is expected to finalise the names by tomorrow.

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