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Mamata’s Cabinet is a Mixed Bag; Amit Mitra in, Madan Mitra Out

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which roared back to power for the third time following the hotly contested Assembly election in West Bengal, released its list of ministers who will be sworn in at a ceremony in the Raj Bhavan on Monday. Banerjee, who took oath as chief minister last Wednesday, has submitted a list of 43 ministers — both cabinet and ministers of state — to the governor. Though the TMC has won with a thumping majority in the recently held assembly election, Banerjee herself lost from Nandigram and she too needs to win a bypoll.

As many as 17 MLAs, mostly veterans like Subrata Mukherjee, Partha Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay Jyoti Priya Mallick, Moloy Ghatak, Aroop Biswas, Dr Shashi Panja and Javed Ahmed Khan, have been named as full-time ministers, while 19 have been made state ministers and another 10 will be given independent charge. Former finance minister Amit Mitra has also been named in Cabinet list even though he did not contest the recently held election due to his ill health. The TMC supremo wants Mitra back at the helm of the finance department and has plans to make him a member of the Assembly through a by-election, the senior leader of the party said.

Among the 17 faces making an entry to the ministry is cricketer-turned-politician Manoj Tiwary, who became a legislator from Shibpur in Howrah. Other new entrants to the council of ministers will include former IPS officer Humayun Kabir and Siuli Saha. While Kabir will be among 10 persons who will become ministers of state (independent charge), Tiwari and Saha will feature in the list of nine MLAs who will be sworn-in as ministers of state. Banerjee is also scheduled to hold the first Cabinet meeting on Monday after the swearing-in ceremony, he said.

Meanwhile, the name of former transport minister Madan Mitra, an MLA from Kamarhati, did not figure in the list. Two other former ministers — Tapash Roy and Nirmal Majhi — have also been denied ministries. The list also did not have names of anyone from the glamour world, many of whom won the election on a Trinamool Congress ticket.

In another development, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, on a request by the CBI, sanctioned the prosecution of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee, all of them ministers during the time of the alleged commission of a crime that came to light in the purported Narada sting tapes, an official said on Sunday. “Honourable governor is the competent authority to accord sanction in terms of law as he happens to be the appointing authority for such ministers in terms of Article 164 of the Constitution,” a statement issued by the officer on special duty (communication), Raj Bhavan, said. All the four men were ministers in Banerjee’s cabinet when the tapes were allegedly made in 2014. Hakim, Mukherjee and Mitra have been re-elected as TMC MLAs, while Chatterjee, who left the TMC to join the BJP, has severed links with both the camps.

(With PTI inputs)

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