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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Mamata’s trusted lieutenant Amit Mitra back in new role

Amit Mitra has been appointed as the principal chief advisor to the chief minister and the finance department.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata |
Updated: November 10, 2021 3:00:32 pm
Amit MitraBorn to a family of freedom fighters who were related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Amit Mitra has an impeccable track record since his formative years. (File photo)

In a major cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, Mamata Banerjee appointed three-time West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra as the principal chief advisor to the chief minister and the finance department. The latter has been given the status of a cabinet-rank minister. The appointment was made after Banerjee took over the finance portfolio from Mitra.

Notably, the former secretary general of FICCI did not contest the state assembly polls earlier this year owing to poor health conditions. As per the norms, one can serve as a minister for a maximum period of six months after the assembly polls if he/she is not elected to the state assembly.

Meanwhile, senior TMC leader Chandrima Bhattacharya was made the Minister of State (MoS) for Finance.

Noted economist with impeccable track record

Born to a family of freedom fighters who were related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Amit Mitra has an impeccable track record since his formative years. He graduated with a degree in Economics from the Presidency College when it was affiliated to the University of Calcutta. Mitra received a Masters from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi and a PhD from the Duke University in the USA in 1978.

Before his tenure as West Bengal finance minister, Mitra had made a name for himself as a successful economist. He joined the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and rose to be its secretary-general. During his tenure, he is credited to have transformed the FICCI into a professional organisation to research and formulate India’s policy during its economic liberalisation.

He also served as an additional director of the Steel Authority of India Ltd from March 25, 2003 to March 24, 2006. Amit Mitra also received the Padma Shri award in 2008.

At the request of the then railway minister Mamata Banerjee, Mitra headed a panel to draw up business plans for the public-private partnership projects of the railways. He has also been on the government’s advisory committee on the World Trade Organization and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council. He was associated with the Planning Commission as a member of the expert group on equitable development.

Mr Dependable for Mamata Banerjee

Mitra joined the Trinamool Congress on the invitation of Mamata Banerjee. He contested the 2011 West Bengal assembly election from the Khardaha constituency and received the title of a ‘giant killer’ after he defeated then state finance minister and five-time MLA Asim Dasgupta by a margin of 26,154 votes. He resigned as secretary-general of the FICCI on May 18, 2011 upon his election to the Bengal assembly.

Mitra was sworn in as a state minister on May 20, 2011 and was given the finance and excise portfolio. He held commerce and industries; public enterprise; information technology and electronics; planning and statistics and programme monitoring; micro, small and medium enterprise and textile portfolios from time to time, besides heading the finance department.

In 2016, Mitra was made chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers then working on the details of the goods and services tax (GST). Being a member of the GST Council, Mitra was instrumental in bringing in changes and revisions in the GST after its implementation in 2017. From time to time, he wrote letters to the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, drawing their attention to several economic issues concerning the welfare of the general public.

He was also instrumental in organising the West Bengal government’s annual flagship business conclave – Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) – for five years and attracting investments for the state. He was arguably the most dependable man in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet when it came to issues related to finance, so much so that Banerjee has retained him in her government as her principal chief advisor and for the finance department.

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