Mamata ministry reshuffle likely today

Kolkata

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to reshuffle her 31-month-old cabinet on December 26, days after she pulled up several non-performing ministers, including IT minister and senior party leader Partha Chatterjee.

There was no official announcement whether portfolios of existing ministers would be changed, or anyone would be dropped or new faces would be taken in. Even the Trinamool leaders claimed to be in dark about the impending reshuffle, even as the CM's secretariat issued two separate invitation cards for the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan on December 26.

While the first invitation card from Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra said that Governor M K Narayanan would "administer the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers at 1:40 pm", the second card is for the swearing-in ceremony of Gorkhaland Mukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung as the chief executive of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) —- the council for the Darjeeling hills. Gurung will be back as GTA chief executive three months after he resigned from the post and launched an agitation for a separate Gorkhaland, which was effectively curbed by the state government.

Meanwhile, there is hope and despair among the Trinamool leaders over the proposed cabinet reshuffle as it is being expected that the axe will fall on some who were pulled up the chief minister during a review meeting of performance of all departments in Kolkata on December 20.

Those already within the ministry but spending anxious moments include Partha Chatterjee, Sabitri Mitra, Sudarahsan Ghosh Dostidar and Hiten Barmab.

Names of some possible candidates who may get a cabinet berth have already started making rounds —- chief among them being Sashi Panja, Ajoy De, Chand Mohammed and Soumitra Khan. While Sashi Panja, a TMC leader, had been waiting in the wings for long to be inducted, Ajoy De had recently deserted the Congress to join the TMC and is likely to be rewarded. De, a veteran Congress leader from Nadia district, enjoys a clean image with a huge mass base. e

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