Political Math Won’t Add Up: Trinamool After 4 Bengal MPs Made Ministers

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Political Math Won't Add Up: Trinamool After 4 Bengal MPs Made Ministers

PM Modi reshuffled his Cabinet for the first time Wednesday since he took office for a second term

Kolkata:

Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress has reacted strongly to four BJP MPs from the state being appointed as junior ministers at the Centre after a major reboot of the Cabinet on Wednesday. BJP MPs from the state – John Barla, Nisith Pramanik, Dr Subhas Sarkar and Shantanu Thakur – were made Ministers of State as PM Modi reshuffled his Cabinet for the first time since he took office for a second term in 2019.

“John Barla is a separatist and a fool,” Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy said about the tribal leader and MP from North Bengal’s Alipurduar who has been made the Minister of State for Minority Affairs.

In recent times, Mr Barla made headlines with his demand that a Union Territory be carved out of West Bengal in the north. He claimed north Bengal has been neglected and deprived of all development by the government that is based out of Kolkata, the southern part of the state.

Bengal Transport Minister Firhad Hakim attacked Nisith Pramanik, the newly-appointed Minister of State for Home, over pending criminal cases, including a murder charge, against him.

“The Home Minister was involved in an encounter case in the past. By becoming a Minister he got away with it. These new ministers will also get away,” Mr Hakim said.

Nisith Pramanik, an MP from Cooch Behar is a member of the Rajbanshi community. At 35, he is the youngest minister in the Union Cabinet.

There have been no direct attacks on the other two Ministers of State so far.

Dr Subhas Sarkar, an MP from Bankura, has been appointed as the MoS for Education and Bongaon MP Santanu Thakur as the MoS for Shipping.

Both are being viewed as strategic political appointments – Dr Subhas Sarkar is from the Junglemahal area of the state while Santanu Thakur comes from the Scheduled Caste Matua community who has been demanding the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

“Narendra Modi’s cabinet reshuffle has definitely been made with an eye on 2024,” said Political Analyst and Professor Biswanath Chakraborty. “Where can BJP get seats in 2024? With that in mind, he has selected ministers from Bengal from communities where BJP has influence and a chance to win in 2024.”

Congress MP and Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary appeared to agree with this view.

“Because they have done well in North Bengal, they have now decided to strategically promote the north Bengal MPs who they will use to increase their influence in the area for 2024,” Mr Chaudhary said, adding, “If they try to divide the state, the Bengali people will throw them out.”

In fact, Trinamool spokesman Kunal Ghosh tweeted, “The political math behind the appointment of these MoS will not add up.”

The BJP is not rising to the bait.

On the charge that Mr Barla and Mr Pramanik will fan separatist flames in North Bengal, Leader of Opposition in the state Suvendu Adhikari said, “There is a personal view and a party view. The view of John Barla in North Bengal and MP Soumitra Khan who called for a separate state in Junglemahal… These are their personal views. The BJP has made it clear, it has no demand. As opposition leader, my stand is the party stand.”

John Barla, after taking office Thursday, said that the demand for a separate state or Union Territory in North Bengal is more than a hundred years old. “You can’t suppress the people’s demand,” he said.

Bengal for some also signals the BJP’s plans to push ahead with the CAA agenda in the coming months – both Rajbanshi and the Matua community- who belong to the Scheduled Castes – want its implementation.

The failure to do so before the Bengal Assembly elections had the two communities on the brink of revolt. However, they were pacified. The BJP will now try to ensure that CAA is used in time for the 2024 elections.

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