The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shot at finance shift

Calcutta, May 8: Ahead of the announcement of the election results, the CPM’s Bengal leadership will discuss on Wednesday the possible shape of a new Left Front government under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Certain of the formation of the seventh front government this month, three of the four politburo members from Bengal ' Jyoti Basu, Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose ' will also explore the scope of installing a new finance minister, even if incumbent Asim Dasgupta returns victorious.

“At the mini-politburo meeting on May 10, the core party leadership will address the need to infuse new blood into the finance ministry in tune with the suggestion Buddhadeb-babu and other leaders have been making for some time.”

If matters go as planned by the CPM leaders, Nirupam Sen, the industry minister and the No. 2 in the outgoing Bhattacharjee government, will be named the new finance minister, replacing Dasgupta who has been wearing the hat for 20 years.

Bhattacharjee, Bose and the late Anil Biswas ' the former state secretary had set the stage for the current exercise ' had reached an in-principle agreement on having Sen in finance and moving Dasgupta to education in tune with the thrust on industrialisation, according to sources.

It was Biswas who had first convinced Basu, known to be a backer of Dasgupta, of the need to adopt a new approach to finance and education. After Biswas’s untimely death, Bose, who succeeded him, is believed to have carried the exercise forward in concert with Bhattacharjee.

Basu gave a tentative go-ahead a few days ago. If the core leadership gives the final clearance on Wednesday, the proposal will go to the state secretariat of the CPM. Eventually, all key changes will have to be endorsed by the politburo.

Another key factor that will influence the composition of the new team will be the performance of the Front at the hustings. An improved tally will strengthen the pro-changers’ hands and vice-versa.

But party leaders are careful not to project the proposed change as a statement on Dasgupta’s performance. “Asim-babu performed admirably as finance minister. Now we require someone like him to manage other tougher areas (like education),” a CPM leader said.

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