Ministerial portfolios announced; Shukla gets sports, Basu IT
Former India cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla was made the junior sports minister, theatre personality Bratya Basu got Information Technology and Marxist-turned- Trinamool Congress leader Abdur Razzak Mollah food processing as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday alllocated portfolios among her ministers.
After being sworn in during the day as the chief minister for the second consecutive time, Banerjee chaired the first cabinet meeting of the new government at the state secretariat ‘Nabanana’ and announced the ministerial portfolios to 29 cabinet ministers, five ministers of state with independent charge and eight ministers of state.
Shukla, the former Bengal Ranji captain, has been made a minister of state for sports, youth affairs and public works department.
Mollah, who had been a minister for 29 years in the erstwhile Left Front regime under both chief ministers Jyoti Basu and his successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, got food processing and horticulture departments.
The chief minister herself will look after key ministries like home, health and family welfare, hill affairs, land and land reforms, information and cultural affairs, minorities affairs and Madrasah education, micro and small scale enterprises, personnel and administrative reforms.
Basu, who helmed important ministries like education and tourism during the past five years, was handed the Information Technology portfolio as “it is very important for us”, said Banerjee.
Amit Mitra held the portfolio so long, but “we need to relieve him of some pressure, as he is running other important departments”, she said.
City mayor Sovon Chatterjee made his debut as a minister getting fire & engineering, housing and environment departments.
Banerjee has already indicated that he will continue as mayor as well.
“Running these departments will be easy for him, as they need close liason with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation,” she said.
The 18 new faces in the ministerial council includes noted Bengali singer Indranil Sen who was made minister of state for information and cultural affairs.
Most of the heavyweight ministers including Mitra, Partha Chatterjee and Firhad Hakim retained their respective portfolios which they were allotted in the previous term.
Mitra retained finance, commerce & industries, excise, industrial reconstruction and public enterprise, Chatterjee keeping education and parliamentary affairs and Hakim with urban development and municipal affairs.
Party veteran Sovondeb Chattopadhyay got power and renewable energy ministry.
Banerjee also announced accommodating three of her previous ministers who lost the polls, in the departments which they were associated earlier.
The trio of former power minister Manish Gupta, former public works minister Sankar Chakravorty and backward classes welfare minister Upendranath Biswas will be accorded the status of a cabinet minister and will be associated their respective departments, said Banerjee.
She also said former minister of state for law and health Chandrima Bhattacharya, who too lost the polls, will be accorded a status commensurate with her previous position.
With Biman Banerjee expected to be elected speaker again, Banerjee said H.A. Safwi will be the deputy speaker.