NIRUPAM FILTER FOR BUDDHA CABINET 

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By BY SHANKAR MUKHERJEE in Calcutta
  • Published 28.05.01
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Calcutta, May 28 :    Calcutta, May 28:  Nirupam Sen, second man in the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ministry, will act as the funnel through which proposals of all departments will have to pass before they are placed before the Cabinet. This new system is being put into effect from the new Cabinet's first meeting scheduled for June 6. The mechanism marks a sharp departure from the previous practice where individual ministers used to prepare their own agenda for Cabinet meetings and submit it to the chief minister for consent. After the chief minister's approval, the full agenda for a meeting was finalised and each minister placed his or her department's proposal there. From now on, Sen, in his capacity as planning and development minister, will be the single-point authority for routing proposals to the Cabinet. When a departmental subject is placed at the meeting, the minister concerned will be given a hearing. Sen has been asked by Bhattacharjee to finalise by June 4 the subjects to be brought before the Cabinet after consulting the ministers. The new task is confirmation of the clout Sen - already designated No. 2 - will enjoy in the ministry with the blessings of the party, which is increasingly calling the shots in this government, now that it does not have to contend with Jyoti Basu's overwhelming personality. Under the new system every single item will have to be run through Sen. He will have to be told if a department wants to create a new post or take up a new project or re-employ anyone. The planning and development minister will submit the papers to the chief minister for consent before finalising the Cabinet agenda. Finance minister Asim Dasgupta, whose wings have been clipped by taking away the planning and development department from his portfolio, will assist Sen in the exercise. Sen and Dasgupta will start hearing the ministers from tomorrow. As only five working days are available to complete the exercise, sources said, the duo will hold meetings with four or more ministers at a time. "Normally, all the departments at a time do not have an agenda for getting approval. Health, land, industry and the urban development department are among the regulars. So, it will not take much time to prepare the agenda paper for three or four departments,'' officials said. Earlier, the CPM leadership had instructed its ministers to submit their plans in advance to Sen with the rider that work can start only after his clearance. A senior minister, who is also a state committee member, did not agree that such moves added up to the party holding the reins on ministers.