Bengal minister resents new responsibolity, wants to resign

A key minister in Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government today expressed his desire to resign from the cabinet in protest against being shifted to a new portfolio in a ministerial reshuffle.

Rabindranath Bhattacharya, who had played a key role in Mamata's movement against Tata Motors' Nano car factory in Singur, was shunted to Statistics and Programme implementation from Agriculture in Wednesday's cabinet rehuffle.

"I have not accepted the new ministry which was given to me. I want to resign. I want to take retirement from politics," Bhattacharya, who skipped the state secretariat and stayed at his home at Singur in Hooghly district ever since the change in portfolio was announced, told a TV channel.

Bhattacharya said he was unable to accept the ministry allotted to him in the reshuffle.

"I had the understanding of the ministry I was holding. I don't understand the present responsibility. So, I am not joining the ministry," Bhattacharya, a prominent leader from Singur, said.

However, Bhattacharya refused to divulge if he would send in his resignation to the chief minister and cited the oath he had taken under the Constitution as the reason for his inability.

Speculation had been rife since yesterday over Bhattacharya's resignation.

He told reporters at his residence that "I was assigned School Education, Agriculture and now Statistics and Programme Implementation. This frequent portfolio change, is it good? Do I then not know any work?"

He said many local-level Trinamool Congress leaders had contacted him and expressed sympathy.

A teacher by profession, Bhattacharya is popular in his locality for his pioneering role in the stir against Tatamotors' small car plant at Singur that helped his party climb to power in assembly polls in May last year.

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