Debating India
Home page > Public directory > Indian Politics > Political Parties & Elections > Regional Elections > Buddha retains his reforms team, gets computer professor to head state I-T (...)

WEST BENGAL

Buddha retains his reforms team, gets computer professor to head state I-T dept

Thursday 18 May 2006, by NAGCHOUDHURY*Subrata

KOLKATA, May 17 : With as many as 17 new faces in a ministry of 43, the new Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has sent a strong signal of change but on the crucial issue of economic reforms, the Chief Minister has not only underlined continuity but reinforced it as well-by bringing in a computer science professor to head the information technology department.

Setting the tone is the fact that Bhattacharjee is going to lead the new team from the front, having kept under his control as many as eight key departments, including Home, Information and Cultural Affairs, Development and Planning, Food processing, Science and Technology.

The other highlight in his Cabinet is the induction of Debesh Das, a professor of computer science and engineering from Jadavpur University, as the new Information Technology minister. Das replaces Manab Mukherjee, who over the past five years, helped the CM implement the state’s new information technology policy and has now been moved to cottage and small-scale industry.

Incidentally, the CPM state secretariat met for four consecutive days to resolve differences over Cabinet composition. Jyoti Basu, even at 92, played an integral part in the formation of the new team, trying to strike a balance between various pressure lobbies.

At the core of it, Bhattacharjee could retain his own team with Nirupam Sen as the Minister for Commerce and Industry, Public Undertaking and Industrial Reconstruction. He has been one of Bhattacharjee’s trusted lieutenants in the reforms agenda. Bhattacharjee, however, took over the planning and development portfolio from Sen while letting Asim Dasgupta retain Finance.

I will look forward to a team work. Collective functioning will ensure a growth path for the state,” said Bhattacharjee at a meeting of Left Front MLAs today.

In Labour, Bhattacharjee has also brought in a new face, Anadi Sahu, considered a moderate amid the hardliners, a key addition given that labour reforms are key to the state’s growth.

The slot fell vacant after the party’s veteran leader and earlier Labour minister, Mohammed Amin lost the polls from Garden Reach constituency this time. Party insiders say that CITU state president Shyamal Chakrabarty backed Bhattacharjee’s decision to get a moderate face in this ministry.

Education was one sector where Bhattacharjee was looking for new faces. The old team made way for a new one with two new ministers. The earlier bifurcation of education portfolio into five segments was also reduced to three this time. Heading the higher education ministry will be Sudarshan Roy Choudhury, a former MP. Abdus Sattar, another new face and chairman of the West Bengal Madrassa board, takes over madrassa education. Partha De, an old hand, will be in charge of school education.

There were some setbacks, too, for Bhattacharjee. Controversial minister Subhash Chakravarti proved his clout again. Even after the polls, Chakravarti had announced it would be wrong to attribute the landslide victory to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee alone. Chakravarti believed that though Buddhadeb had done well, it was the Basu legacy that kept the CPM going.

The other factor that might worry Bhattacharjee is the retention of the agriculture portfolio by the Forward Bloc, the perennial “opposition” within the Left Front. Bhattacharjee, sources said, had wanted it to be taken over by the CPM from the Forward Bloc but finally had to yield to coalition interests.

See online : The Indian Express

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0