In her first Cabinet reshuffle since coming to power for the third term, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday inducted eight new faces, including former BJP MP and Union minister Babul Supriyo, and dropped four from her Council of Ministers. Those dropped included Paresh Adhikari, Soumen Mahapatra, Ratna De Nag and Humayun Kabir.
The reshuffle came days after Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief sacked senior minister Partha Chatterjee and suspended him from the party following his arrest by the ED over the school jobs scam.
At a simple ceremony in Raj Bhavan, Governor La Ganesan administered the oath to five Cabinet-rank ministers, two Ministers of State with Independent Charge and two Ministers of State.
While Babul Supriyo, Udayan Guha, Partha Bhowmick, Snehasis Chakraborty and Pradip Mazumdar were sworn in as Cabinet ministers, Tajmul Hossain and Satyajit Barman were sworn in as Ministers of State (MoS). TMC MLA Biplab Ray Chowdhury was sworn in as MoS (Independent Charge) along with Birbhaha Hansda, who has been elevated from the Minister of State rank.
After attending the oath-taking ceremony, CM Banerjee announced the portfolios.
Babul Supriyo, 51, who had quit the BJP to join the TMC after being dropped from the Union Cabinet last year, has got the IT and Tourism Department. He recently won from Ballygunge Assembly seat in Kolkata on a TMC ticket.
“Life has come a full circle. It was last year in August when I left (BJP), and today I am sworn in as a minister of the West Bengal government. I will work hard for the development of the people of West Bengal,” Supriyo said after taking oath.
Partha Bhowmick (58) has been made Irrigation and Waterways Minister, while Snehasis Chakraborty (51) has been made in charge of the Transport Department.
Pradip Mazumdar, who was earlier agricultural adviser to the CM, has been made Panchayat and Rural Development Minister.
Udayan Guha, 67, a former Forward Bloc leader who joined TMC after the 2016 Assembly polls, has been made North Bengal Development Minister. Son of former Left Front minister Kamal Guha, Udayan is at present one of the tallest TMC leaders in Cooch Behar district in north Bengal.
Among Ministers of State with Independent Charge, Biplab Ray Chowdhury (74) has been given the charge of Fisheries Department.
Tribal leader Birbhaha Hansda, 40, who has been elevated to Minister of State with Independent charge, has been given the charge of Department of Self Help Group and Self Employment. The former actor, who won from Jhargram in last year’s Assembly election, is being groomed as the face of Santhali community, TMC sources said.
Newly inducted Satyajit Barman (40) has been made MoS (School Education Department). The MLA from Hemtabad, Barman belongs to the Rajbanshi community.
Tajmul Hossain, 64, a former two-time Forward Bloc MLA who had joined the TMC in 2015, is the new MoS for MSME and Textile Department. He won from Harischandrapur Assembly seat in Malda district in the 2021 state polls.
Meanwhile, Women and Child Development Minister Shashi Panja has been given the additional charge of the Industry and Commerce Department, which was previously held by Partha Chatterjee.
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Public Health Engineering (PHE) Minister Pulak Roy has got the additional charge of Public Works Department (PWD).
“Mamata Banerjee wanted the average age of the Cabinet to decrease. That is why comparatively young faces of the party like Babul Supriyo, Partha Bhowmick and Snehasis Chakraborty have been made Cabinet ministers,” a senior TMC leader said.
A section of TMC leaders said the reshuffle has brought leaders outside of Kolkata into the Council of Ministers. “In the last 11 years, the Cabinet was always dominated by leaders from Kolkata. But, this time leaders from outside Kolkata have got a chance. Udayan Guha, Partha Bhowmick, Snehasis Chakraborty, Tajmul Hossain, Biplab Ray Chowdhury and Satyajit Barman are all leaders from the districts. Though Pradip Mazumdar is a resident of Kolkata, he is an MLA from Paschim Bardhaman district,” said a senior TMC leader.
—With PTI Inputs