Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee, who rose to power in West Bengal for third consecutive term is all set to sworn in as the Chief Minister on Monday, with its 43 members comprising an almost equal mix of the seniors and the new. While, 17 seasoned ministers, who had been in both the earlier cabinets, have all found a place in the third time, whereas, around 16 are set to be first-time ministers.
Amit Mitra, who did not contest the Bengal polls this year, returned to the state cabinet. Manas Bhunia, Pulak Ray, Rathin Ghosh and Biplab Mitra also step into the cabinet, whereas, Ray, Ghosh and Mitra for the first time, after leading the party fightbacks in West Midnapore, Howrah and South Dinajpur. Cricketer Manoj Tiwari also gets a place in the new cabinet, as does former IPS officer Humayun Kabir.
Meanwhile, eight women ministers will also be sworn in, with Sashi Panja the only one to get a cabinet rank. Among the eight women ministers, three — Sandhyarani Tudu, Jyotsna Mandi and Birbaha Hansda — are from Scheduled Tribe communities. However, Madan Mitra, a transport minister in the first Mamata cabinet, and Tapas Roy, Tapan Dasgupta, Asima Patra, Manturam Pakhira, ministers in the second cabinet, did not get any ministerial berth.
Dasgupta and Patra, both from Hooghly, have been replaced by Becharam Manna, the Singur winner (he was a minister in the first TMC cabinet but got dropped from the second), and former Lok Sabha MP Ratna De Nag. Pakhira was replaced by Bankim Hazra from South 24 Parganas, for not only developing Sagar, a Hindu pilgrimage site, but also for being a key organiser in the Gangasagar Mela, held during Covid with minimal public health worries.
Interestingly, many anti-Suvendu leaders managed to get place in Bengal cabinet, according to party leaders, there will not be any big surprise in portfolio allocation.
While announcing her candidate list ahead of the polls, Banerjee had made it clear that while Mitra would not contest due to health reasons, he would be in the cabinet, even suggesting the formation of a bicameral legislature in Bengal after it was done away with in 1969.
Among the party leaders who have been rewarded for holding on to the organisation to lead a fightback in the face of mass defections, several anti-Suvendu Adhikari leaders have found a place in the state cabinet. This includes Ramnagar MLA Akhil Giri and Keshpur MLA Seuli Saha. Adding to the list is Srikanto Mahato from Salboni.
All first-time cabinet ministers are veteran party loyalists who have always worked behind the scenes. Ray, a Chhatra Parishad leader from the early 80s, always moved along with Mamata Banerjee. An MLA from Uluberia South, he fought back defection in rural Howrah. Biplab Mitra, a trusted Mamata Banerjee lieutenant, had defected to BJP briefly in 2019 only to return and lead the party fightback in South Dinajpur. Ghosh is the third-time MLA from Madhyamgram and four-time chairman of Madhyamgram Municipality.
In north Bengal, Malbazar get a minister, Bulu Chikbaraik, after 36 long years. To note, Parimal Mitra was the last minister from Malbazar.
Paresh Chandra Adhkari of Mekhliganj, who was food and civil supplies minister during the Left regime, also came back as an MoS. In Malda’s Mothabari, MLA Sabina Yasmin, who was MoS labour in 2011 as a Congress MLA, was made MoS after she defected and won the polls.