The Mamata Banerjee ministry in West Bengal was expanded on Monday with the induction of two ministers. Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi administered the oath of office and secrecy to Ujjwal Biswas and Chandrima Bhattacharya at Raj Bhavan. Biswas, who touched Banerjee’s feet after taking oath, would be a cabinet minister. Banerjee said he would look after Correctional administration. Bhattacharya, who also took the Chief Minister’s blessings, has been inducted in the ministry as Minister of State with Independent Charge. She would take care of e-governance independently, and also serve as Minister of State for Health under Banerjee.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee, several members of her cabinet, bureaucrats, the Commissioner of Kolkata Police and West Bengal’s Director General of Police were among those present during the solemn and brief function. Biswas had functioned as the Minister for Technical Education in the first Mamata Banerjee cabinet from 2011 to 2016 but was kept out when Banerjee took office for the second term last year.
With Bhattacharya’s induction, the number of women in the 44-member West Bengal ministry has now gone up to five, including Banerjee, who is the state’s first woman Chief Minister. “Chandrima will take charge of health and e-governance and Ujjwal will take care of jail (Correctional Administration) department. Abani Mohan Joardar who holds the Correctional Administration portfolio, will be in the ministry but without any portfolio. He is not well,” Banerjee said after the programme. Bhattacharya, who recently won the Kathi Dakshin assembly seat in a bypoll, returns to the ministry after nearly a year.
Bhattacharya was Minister of State for Health, Law and Judicial Affairs from 2011 to 2016, but lost from Dum Dum North in the 2016 assembly polls. Biswas won from Krishnanagar Dakshin seat in Nadia district. According to informed sources, a reshuffle in Banerjee’s ministry is on the card. “The possible reshuffle could be done after Banerjee’s return from Delhi,” the sources said. The Chief Minister is scheduled to leave for Delhi later on Monday for a scheduled meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi the following day.