Kolkata: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Monday warned her cabinet colleagues against “disrespecting the party in any manner” before making a public announcement that there would be a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday. A few minutes before the CM’s cabinet reshuffle announcement, the Trinamool Congress effected a major organisational shake-up across several districts.
All three developments came in a span of an hour on Monday, a day after former cabinet minister Partha Chatterjee told reporters that the money seized by ED officials from “close aide” Arpita Mukherjee’s homes was “not mine” and that he was “a victim of a conspiracy”.
The cabinet reshuffle was necessitated by multiple vacancies, Mamata explained. “Our senior ministers, Subrata da (Mukherjee) and Sadhan Pande have died, Partha da (Chatterjee) is in jail. Who will do their work? Some one will have to do that,” the CM said, adding that several departments are headless. “It is not possible for me to look after all the departments,” she said. Mamata is now in charge of 11 departments.
The CM indicated that five-six persons would be inducted in the cabinet; Bengal now has 20 cabinet ministers (besides Banerjee herself), 10 ministers of state with independent charge and nine junior ministers. Bengal, according to norms, can have 44 ministers (15% of its assembly strength of 294 MLAs).
Mamata slammed speculation that there would be a complete overhaul of the cabinet because of Chatterjee’s arrest. “Some experts have spoken about the Kamraj plan but I have no such thing in mind. A reshuffle is in the offing and it will be done on Wednesday afternoon,” she said.