The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM works on Mission Smart

Calcutta, April 22: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has established himself as a leader working to revive industry in Bengal. Under him the state’s image, too, is on the mend. If the Left Front gets another term in office, he plans to pick a cabinet that is equipped to carry the effort forward.

Bhattacharjee’s next cabinet is expected to be youthful, aggressive and tuned to modern trends so that when opportunities arise, it is able to spot and exploit them.

“Those of you who have read into the list of our candidates will be able to perceive a statement of our intent,” the chief minister told The Telegraph in an interview.

Whether Bhattacharjee says it in so many words or not, in the outgoing ministry there are less than a handful of people with the skills to promote Bengal nationally ' not to speak of globally ' against aggressive competitors from some of the other states which have been doing this far longer.

It’s a problem that has emerged in a survey of Bengal industry done by the Indian Chamber of Commerce where businessmen have expressed unhappiness with the promotional effort. They have also said that one Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is not enough to bring about change.

In his Jadavpur constituency, the Congress and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul have begun to attack the chief minister, describing him as “swapner pheriwala” (dream merchant).

“If returned to power for another five years, and I think we will come back with a comfortable margin, we will have ministers who are young, capable of conjuring up a picture of a forward-looking Bengal and engaging the attention of the country,” Bhattacharjee has said.

This should mean ministers who can communicate with ease in English and Hindi, understand the working of market forces and, above all, be informed and sharp enough to identify and tap national and international forums where Bengal can be promoted.

“Earlier there were instances where we could not showcase Bengal before discriminating national and international audiences because of the inability of the ministers concerned to respond to opportunities,” Bhattacharjee said.

He mentioned the events that other states used to successfully promote themselves but Bengal could not because the ministers were not up to it.

“We don’t want a repeat of such failures. I would like to address this problem, inherent in some of our ministers. We are short on communication and presentation skills.

“The new ministers will have to be agile, responsive and business-savvy.”

Bhattacharjee’s planned Mission Smart is the natural corollary to Mission Green the CPM and its allies launched to infuse fresh blood into the organisation. The Left Front has dropped over 70 sitting legislators, including senior ministers, and fielded new faces, many of whom are professionals ' engineers, teachers and IT experts.

Education is one area where a new team will take charge since all five members of the outgoing ministry have been denied nomination. There are no obvious indications like this for other ministries but the intention is on record.

wanted, an education minister

Since education has been one of his main problem areas, the search for his new higher education minister could be both a challenge and an opportunity for the chief minister. He would like to have someone who is familiar with the real issues of higher education and has the right credentials and administrative abilities.

Among his current colleagues, none perhaps fits the bill better than Asim Dasgupta, the Left Front government’s one and only finance minister for nearly two decades. Not that the chief minister would commit himself either way at this stage.

Shifting Dasgupta to education could also mean a new beginning for finance.
Asked whether the blame for the state’s messy finances lies primarily with the minister, the chief minister smiled but avoided a straight answer. “Wait and see what happens” was all he would say at this stage.

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