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Trinamul bats for berths

Siliguri, Sept. 24: Trinamul leaders from north Bengal have started lobbying for the inclusion of party MLAs from the region in the state cabinet as six slots have fallen vacant following the resignations of six Congress ministers.

Of the six Congress ministers who put down their papers, four were from north Bengal. Now there are five ministers from the region.

“As we have 17 MLAs from north Bengal and only five of them are cabinet ministers, our expectations are high that the party will provide berths to some of the MLAs in the state cabinet,” a senior Trinamul leader from Jalpaiguri said.

“We want the total number of ministers (nine)to remain and we would urge the state leaders to look into it,” he said.

According to Trinamul insiders, any reduction in the number of ministers from north Bengal would make the Congress and the CPM take it up as a political agenda.

“Both the parties will keep on blaring that the Trinamul was not concerned about north Bengal or is reluctant to ensure adequate representation from the region in the state cabinet,” said a source.

The five ministers from the region who are in the state cabinet now are: Gautam Deb (north Bengal development), Sabitri Mitra (women and child welfare), Hiten Burman (forest), Shankar Chakraborty (jails) and Chowdhury Abdul Karim (library services and mass education).

The resignation of Congress ministers has brought down the number of state ministers from Malda and North Dinajpur in the state cabinet and there are no ministers in the cabinet from Darjeeling after Phansidewa MLA Sunil Tirkey resigned.

“We have urged the state leadership to contemplate over the fact that it is necessary to have ministers from Cooch Behar and North Dinajpur to counter the Congress,” said a Trinamul leader in Cooch Behar.

“Ahead of the panchayat polls, the Congress must not get a chance to make it an issue that Trinamul has ignored the region,” he added.

Sources said names like Rabindranath Ghosh, Trinamul president of Cooch Behar, Cooch Behar MLA Argha Roy Pradhan, MLA of Jalpaiguri’s Rajganj, Khageswar Roy, Anil Adhikari, Falakata MLA, Hamidul Rehman, the Chopra MLA who deserted Congress and joined Trinamul and Amal Acharya, Itahar MLA, are doing the rounds. Four MLAs from South Dinajpur are also in the queue.

“The final decision rests with the chief minister. She has always had high priority for north Bengal. As no names have been officially spelt out yet, there is no reason to think that the region would lack adequate representation. Except Malda, we have MLAs in the five other districts (of the region), who can be selected for the post of ministers. The decision is expected to be taken soon,” minister Gautam Deb said.