Singur MLA wants to quit

An upset Rabindranath Bhattacharya, the three-term MLA from Singur, on Friday said that he was contemplating retirement from politics in the wake of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shifting him from the crucial agriculture department to programme implementation and statistics department.

Making his resentment over the reshuffle clear, Bhattacharya, the face of Singur land movement, stuck to his stand that he would not take charge of the new ministry allotted to him by the chief minister.

"I don't have any idea about the new department which I have been given. I am not going to take charge of the new department," said Bhattacharya, adding, "I have to take a decision whether I will remain in politics or not. I want to take retirement from politics."

The teacher-turned-politician, who joined Mamata's cabinet as school education minister and then moved to agriculture before finally being shifted to programme implementation and statistics, also made a subtle attack on the CM's policy of frequent reshuffle. "This frequent portfolio change, is it good? Do I then not know any work?" he said, and added that many local-level Trinamool leaders had contacted him and expressed sympathy with him.

It has been learnt that Bhattacharya has communicated his decision of resigning from the cabinet to Mamata Banerjee. A close aide of him said the MLA could skip the upcoming Assembly session, too.

The Trinamool leadership, meanwhile, is likely to make Dr Sashi Panja as the minister for programme implementation and statistics department. "Initially, it was decided that Rabindranath Bhattacharya will be dropped from the cabinet as the Chief Minister found him a poor administrator. It was also decided that Dr Sashi Panja will be given a berth. However, keeping the sentiment of the people of Singur in mind, the CM decided to retain Bhattacharya in the cabinet by giving him a less important department. Since now he refuses to take charge of the new ministry, Dr Panja is likely to be made the minister in his place," said a senior Trinamool leader.

Another disgruntled minister relents

Rabiranjan Chatterjee on Friday said that he would take charge of the new ministry on Monday. Chatterjee, who was stripped of his responsibility of technical education department and allowed to retain only science and technology department, said: "I will continue with my work as the minister for science and technology. I have to continue as the chief minister has instructed me to do so."

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