Mamata keeps key slots

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 21.05.11
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Calcutta, May 20: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has kept with her most key portfolios that she feels can play a role in restructuring Bengal and are tied to her poll planks.

Apart from home, Mamata will oversee land and land reforms, hill affairs, minority affairs, madarsa education, agriculture and power — all dealing with hot-button issues.

Although several of her MLAs are from the minority community, she has chosen to keep minority affairs with herself because of the flak the Left drew over the poor state of affairs exposed by the Sachar committee report.

Mamata will run health services, leaving environment to Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, a highly qualified doctor.

Like her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Mamata has kept information and cultural affairs with her.

The department of planning and development has been handed over to former chief secretary Manish Gupta.

The deputy leader of the House, Partha Chatterjee, has bagged commerce and industry along with information technology, industrial reconstruction, public enterprises and parliamentary affairs.

Laying stress on north Bengal, where her party has broken new ground, Mamata has appointed a cabinet minister solely for the development of the region.

Nearly 10 hours after the ministers took oath, Chatterjee came out with the list of portfolios. Many of the new ministers had left by then.

The need to accommodate 37 ministers — 31 cabinet-rank ministers from her party and two from the Congress, apart from four ministers of state — forced Mamata to rework her list many times.

Among Mamata loyalists, Subrata Bakshi has been given public works and transport. Calcutta Port MLA Firhad Hakim has got municipal affairs and urban development.

Sabitri Mitra, the only woman in the cabinet other than Mamata, has been given women and child development and social welfare.

Another key Mamata aide, Jyotipriya Mullick, will be in charge of food and supplies. Howrah MLA Arup Roy gets agri-marketing. Another Mamata acolyte, Madan Mitra, is minister of state with independent charge of sports.

To Manas Bhuniya of ally Congress, Mamata has given irrigation and waterways, micro and small-scale enterprises and textiles.

His party colleague Abu Hena is minister for fisheries along with food processing and horticulture.

Bratya Basu is higher education minister while Rabindranath Bhattacharya, the Singur MLA, will head school education.

Subrata Mukherjee, the only minister in the Mamata cabinet with previous experience at Writers’, has been tasked with public health engineering.

Sadhan Pande has got consumer affairs.

Kashinath Mishra, the Purulia MLA, has been dropped from the initial list.