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Trinamul hunt for six ministers

Calcutta, Sept. 23: Mamata Banerjee will “soon” induct half a dozen faces from Trinamul Congress into the cabinet to fill the void created by the resignations of six Congress ministers, a party source said today.

The six Congress ministers, of them two with cabinet rank, quit office yesterday as the party and Trinamul have severed ties.

Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, believed to be close to the chief minister, today said six MLAs would “soon be inducted”. “Mamata has already begun a hunt for six new faces,” he said.

A Trinamul source said that of the six Congress ministers, a replacement for Manas Bhunia, who held the portfolios of irrigation, micro and small-scale enterprises, appears to be “a tough job” because the departments need an “efficient hand”.

“With less than a year to go for the panchayat elections, the irrigation, micro and small-scale departments assume significance as these involve thousands of farmers in villages and those engaged in the cottage industry. So, we need an efficient hand to oversee such important departments,” said a Trinamul vice-president.

Mamata has two party MLAs in mind — Sovandeb Chattopadhyay from Rashbehari and Tapas Roy from Baranagar for the departments.

“Mamatadi might choose either Sovandebda or Tapas for irrigation, micro and small-scale industries. If she opts for Sovandebda, who is at present the Trinamul chief whip in the Assembly, Tapas might be elevated to the post of chief whip. The possibility of Tapas’s induction into the cabinet also cannot be ruled out,” the Trinamul vice-president added.

It is learnt that the fisheries department, which the Congress’s Abu Hena used to oversee, may go to his junior colleague Subrata Saha of Trinamul as independent charge.

Saha today said he was already overseeing the bulk of the work in the fisheries department. “I have no problem if I am given independent charge of the department,” he said.

Another name doing the rounds in Trinamul circles is that of Sashi Panja, the party MLA from Shyampukur. Panja’s name was once considered for the post of junior minister for health but the berth went to Chandrima Bhattacharya, the Trinamul women’s wing chief.

A Trinamul source said Panja might be made a junior minister in the labour department.

Some other names such as Jyotirmoy Kar from Patashpur in East Midnapore, Asish Banerjee from Rampur in Birbhum, Biplab Mitra from Harirampur in South Dinajpur and Sujit Bose from Bidhan Nagar, are also doing the rounds.