Setback for Firad Hakim, Mamata’s rising star

The killing of a police officer allegedly by assailants sheltered by the Trinamool Congress in Garden Reach comes as a setback for Firad Hakim — the state Urban Development Minister and face of Mamata Banerjee's young brigade in the Cabinet — who represents the constituency.

Among seven Muslim ministers in Mamata's team, Hakim occupies a special status. Not only does he represent the Muslims, he is also seen as a secular face from the minority community. His pet name "Bobby" adds to his secular credentials, many believe.

In the past two years of the Trinamool Congress government, the 45-year-old Hakim has risen steadily starting from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Once known to have a running battle with Mayor Sovan Chatopadhyay, who was also a Didi favourite not so long ago, Hakim had the last laugh when he bagged the Urban Development Ministry, which controls much of the municipal works in terms of budgeting and financing. Not just that, he also managed to break into the trusted circle of the chief minister, so much so that he is often seen handling her cellphones when she is busy.

Hakim is seen as a rising star in the Trinamool ranks and is considered the 'most reliable' lieutenant of Mamata. There are rumours that Mamata has started pushing him to take the place of Mukul Roy, Trinamool general secretary who is considered the number 2 in the party.

After three consecutive terms as a councillor, Hakim first entered the assembly in 2009 through a byelection. He kept his record clean when he won two years later.

Incidentally, Hakim's mother is a retired schoolteacher who used to be a die-hard Marxist before she joined Trinamool. His association with Mamata goes back to the days when both were in the Congress. He followed Mamata when she quit the Congress, and the bond only grew stronger since then.

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