Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to reshuffle her Cabinet and the district level leadership of Trinamool Congress in the coming months, sources close to her said, adding that the aim was to expedite development initiatives at the grassroots and strengthen the party organisation.
Sources further said that the reshuffle was being planned keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The party will also “ponder over weaknesses” in certain areas where the Opposition, especially the BJP, has gained ground.
“We have done well in the panchayat polls and won majority seats. However, we now have to prepare for the 2019 Lok Sabha (elections). Certain changes in the party’s rank and files are therefore the need of the hour. Also to speed up development work, we need some adjustments in the Cabinet,” said a senior Trinamool leader who is close to the chief minister.
“A reshuffle in both Cabinet and district level leadership is likely in the coming few months. This is after the panchayat issue is settled in court. The aim is to work more for the people of Bengal at the grassroot level, to expedite popular development schemes such as Kanyashree, Juboshree and others,” another source said.
During the Cabinet reshuffle, one or two ministers may be dropped and a few changes in portfolio are also likely,
The Trinamool is also taking a hard look at its leadership in the tribal belt where BJP made substantial gains in the panchayat polls. The chief minister herself had alleged that “money and muscle power” was used from states bordering Bengal, where the BJP rules, to influence the panchayat polls.
“We are looking into areas where our political opponents have gained ground. We will see whether the organisation was lacking in those places. Whether we failed to reach the people with development initiatives. Areas like Purulia, Jharghram, Lalgarh and some areas of North Bengal,” said a senior party leader.
Sources said that part of TMC’s tacit preparation for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is checking the growth of BJP in Bengal, as well as giving more responsibilities to young leaders like MP Abhishek Banerjee, state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari, state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim and state Sports Minister Arup Biswas.
The party may also replace Sovan Chatterjee, its South 24 Parganas president. Chatterjee, who is also mayor of Kolkata, had been benched ahead of the panchayat polls. The party has allegedly distanced itself from Chatterjee following a controversy surrounding his marriage after he had a tiff with his wife in public. Insiders claimed that since he is not concentrating on party work in the district, he may be replaced.