Galaxy of leaders to attend Mamata’s swearing-in, Shukla, Kolkata mayor in ministry (Roundup)

Kolkata, May 26 (IANS) Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, former Indian cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla and noted singer Indranil Sen will be among 18 new faces to be sworn in as ministers as Mamata Banerjee takes oath again as West Bengal Chief Minister on Friday in the presence of a galaxy of political heavyweights led by Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

The strength of the ministry would be 42, including the chief minister, Banerjee announced on Thursday, after submitting the list to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at the Raj Bhavan.

There are three women and seven members from the Muslim community in the ministry, which will be sworn in on the arterial Indira Gandhi Sarani (Red Road), where arrangements have been made for thousands of people to watch.

Apart from Tobgay, who is already in the city, Bangladesh Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu, union ministers Arun Jaitley and Babul Supriyo, Chief Ministers Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh), Nitish Kumar (Bihar), and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah have already confirmed their presence in the ceremony, said Banerjee.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, a DMK representative and film actor Om Puri are also slated to attend.

The ministry’s fresh entrants include former Marxist-turned-Trinamool Congress lawmaker Abdur Rezzak Mollah, Suvendu Adhikary, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, Churamoni Mahato, Tapan Dasgupta, Siddiqullah Chowdhury and Asima Patra.

Two retired IPS officers Abani Joardar and James Kujur, Gulam Rabbani, Bachchu Hansda, Jakir Hossain, Sandhyarani Tudu, Shaymal Santra and Rabindranath Ghosh are the other new inductions.

The heavyweight ministers in Banerjee’s first cabinet formed five years ago – Amit Mitra, Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Aroop Biswas, Jyotipriyo Mullick, Purnendu Bose, Bratya Basu, Gautam Deb – have also retained their berths.

Others who will continue include prominent faces like Jawed Ahmed Khan, Sadhan Pandey, Aroop Roy, Moloy Ghatak, Rajib Banerjee and Shashi Panja.

Those who have been dropped this time despite retaining their seats in the recent assembly polls are Becharam Manna, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, Haider Aziz Safwi, Rachpal Singh, Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, Rabiranjan Chattopadhyay, Pundarikakkya Saha and Sukumar Hansda.

Eight other ministers in the erstwhile cabinet lost the recent election.

Shukla, who played three One Day Internationals for India and also led the Bengal cricket team, joined the Trinamool ahead of the assembly polls and won from the Howrah North constituency. Once he takes oath on Friday, he will become the first sportsperson to become minister in West Bengal.

Chatterjee, the mayor since 2010, is considered extremely close to Banerjee.

Asked whether the metropolis will now get a new mayor, Banerjee said: “Why? He may get a portfolio which is linked to his post.”

Mollah, a longtime minister in the erstwhile Left Front government, had formed a new party in 2014 following which he was expelled from the CPI-M. He joined the Trinamool ahead of the assembly election.

Anotehr notable including in the ministry is influential minority leader Siddiqullah Chowdhury, who won the election from Mangalkote in Burdwan district.

Banerjee said those who have not been included this time would be used for other important work.

“We can have upto 44 ministers. But tomorrow, 42 of us will take oath. All districts, except Malda, have been represented in the ministry. We don’t have any lawmaker from Malda. We have taken into account lot of factors including caste and creed,” she said.

Another district which does not have any representation is Darjeeling, as Trinamool had drawn a blank there.

Banerjee said it would take some time to allocate the portfolios.

Announcing that the swearing-in-ceremony was dedicated to ‘Ma, Mati, Manush (mother, land and people)’, Banerjee said 19,000 chairs would be kept for the ordinary people, who can occupy them on first-come, first-served basis.

The state government has also made arrangements for giant screens to be installed on the road.

The opposition in the state – the Left Front, Congress and the BJP – have announced a boycott of the function protesting against alleged violence perpetrated on them by the Trinamool.

–IANS

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