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Malay set for cabinet comeback

Calcutta, July 1: Malay Ghatak, the Trinamul leader who was apparently forced to quit his cabinet berth after Asansol Lok Sabha candidate Dola Sen’s loss, is likely to get a ministerial berth in a shuffle tomorrow.

Nabanna sources said Ghatak could be given the labour portfolio. Labour minister Purnendu Bose could be shifted to the agriculture department, which has been lying vacant since Ghatak’s exit.

The sources said two new faces, including an MLA said to be opposed to Tamluk MP Subhendu Adhikari, could be inducted into the ministry.

Jyotirmoy Kar, the Trinamul MLA from Patashpur in East Midnapore who apparently belongs to the anti-Subhendu lobby, and Rampurhat MLA Asish Banerjee could be made ministers. Subhendu was last month removed as the state Trinamul Youth Congress chief.

According to the sources, minister without portfolio Subrata Saha and planning minister Nure Alam Choudhury could make way for the new faces.

The sources said the most important of the possible changes would be the re-induction of Ghatak, who has considerable influence in Asansol. Bose, whom Ghatak is likely to replace, is known to be the mentor of Dola, the state Trinamul trade union chief who lost the poll in Asansol.

“It is clear that the party leadership is focusing on recovering ground in Asansol, the seat the BJP won. Ghatak is the son of the soil and he would be better equipped to do the job than Dola, who lost the polls by over 70,000 votes,” a senior Trinamul leader said.

Trinamul sources said Ghatak was told to resign after Dola’s loss. Dola, the sources said, had complained to Mamata Banerjee that local leaders had not co-operated with her, because of which she lost in the industrial town.

“After the elections, the party leadership realised that the BJP has made inroads in Asansol. As Asansol is an industrial town, the party has decided to entrust Ghatak with the responsibility of recovering the ground it lost among labourers in the area. The best way of doing this is making Ghatak the labour minister,” the Trinamul leader said.

The sources said the move could be aimed at clipping Dola’s wings.

“Considering the heavy presence of labourers in Asansol, Dola had been given the ticket. She failed to earn their faith despite being a top labour wing leader,” the leader added.