43 sworn in as ministers in Mamata’s Cabinet

Rezaul Karim

11 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

After the resounding victory of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the recently concluded 2021 West Bengal legislative assembly elections, a 43-member cabinet was sworn in on Monday at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata.

The new and third cabinet of the Mamata Banerjee-led government has a mix of political veterans, experienced leaders, several fresh faces and a number of trusted lieutenants of the West Bengal Chief Minister.

The cabinet comprises 24 full ministers and 19 state ministers. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers in a low-key ceremony.

Mamata Banerjee, who took charge as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for her third term on May 6, was present at the oath taking ceremony.

The 24 full ministers are Subrata Mukherjee, Partha Chatterjee, Amit Mitra, Sadhan Pande, Jyotipriya Mallick, Bankim Chandra Hazra, Manas Bhunia, Soumen Mahapatra, Moloy Ghatak, Aroop Biswas, Ujjwal Biswas, Arup Roy, Rathin Ghosh, Firhad Hakim, Chandranath Sinha, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, Bratya Basu, Pulak Roy, Shashi Panja, Md. Ghulam Rabbani, Biplab Mitra, Javed Ahmed Khan, Swapan Debnath and Siddiqullah Chowdhury.

Ten West Bengal ministers of state (independent charge) are Becharam Manna, Subrata Saha, Humayun Kabir, Akhil Giri, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Ratna De Nag, Sandhya Rani Tudu, Bulu Chik Baraik, Sujit Basu and Indranil Sen.

Nine West Bengal ministers of state are Dilip Mondal, Akhruzzaman, Seuli Saha, Srikanta Mahata, Sabina Yeasmin, Birbaha Hansda, Jyotsna Mandi, Paresh Chandra Adhikary and Manoj Tiwary.

Political analysts said although the West Bengal assembly elections this year were fraught with allegations of ‘betrayal’ and changing allegiances, the cabinet list makes it apparent that TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is rearranged fealty within the party and rewarding loyalty.

An example of this is the conferring of a ministerial charge to Akhil Giri, locally known for his Medinipur faction against that of turncoat strongman leader Suvendu Adhikari. Members who toed the party line are also being suitably recognised, according to TMC sources. Three TMC leaders Amit Mitra, Bratya Basu and Rathin Ghosh were sworn-in virtually. Mitra is unwell and both Basu and Ghosh are recuperating from COVID-19.         

Amit Mitra, who was Finance Minister in Mamata’s two previous terms since 2011, was not given a ticket in the recent elections due to his ill health. The TMC plans to make Mitra a member of the Assembly through a by-election, reports said.

TMC sources said Mamata had to strike a balance between the old faces and the newly-elected MLAs and she successfully did it including some promising names in her ministry.

Also among the new ministers are Manas Ranajan Bhunia, who is also a sitting Rajya Sabha member, and set to quit the upper house of Parliament as he was elected to the Assembly.

Mamata is likely to use Bhunia’s medical background to develop the state’s roadmap against COVID. She also included two other medical practitioners like Sashi Panja and Chandrima Bhattacharya in the ministry. Panja has been sworn in as cabinet minister and Bhattacharyay was MoS in the last ministry.

Among the other new faces who were included in the ministry are Mamata loyalist and Pandua MLA Ratna De Nag and MLA from West Midnapore Akhil Giri who was instrumental in destroying the BJP in West Midnapore.

Apart from that, Mamata has included former IPS officer Humayun Kabir who defeated another IPS officer Bharati Ghosh from Ghatal in East Midnapore. Santhali actress Birbaha Hansda, former cricketer Manoj Tiwari and Sabina Yeasmin were also included as Ministers of State.

The West Bengal Legislative Assembly has 294 seats, but the elections were held for 292 seats. Polling to the Jangipur and Samseehanj seats was deferred due to the death of candidates. Going by the rule, the total number of ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in a State shall not exceed 15 percent.

The Trinamool Congress emerged victorious in the assembly polls, pocketing 213 seats, securing 47 percent of the total votes polled during the eight-phased election. The Bharatiya Janata Party is now the principal opposition party in the state, winning 77 seats. The Congress-Left alliance failed to pocket even a single seat.