Poor Shashi Panja, the Trinamool Congress MLA from Shyampukur in Kolkata. She was selected twice for a berth in the state Cabinet —- when the council of ministers was first formed and when the reshuffle took place last week, but both times she was told at the last minute that she had been dropped. The second time, the affable MLA —- daughter-in-law of late Trinamool Congress leader Ajit Panja and a doctor too —- had even chosen a Kanjeevaram sari to wear for the swearing-in ceremony. But despite the consecutive disappointments, the Tamilian-origin doctor does not seem to have lost hope. She has been assured by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the next time around, even if a single change takes place in the Cabinet, she will get a berth.
What happened to the austerity measures proclaimed by the chief minister? Consider this: The food and supplies department will convene a meeting on December 1 to discuss procurement of rice at Nandan auditorium, which will be chaired by the department’s minister Jyotipriya Mullick and attended by senior bureaucrats including chief secretary Sanjay Mitra. A sumptuous lunch has been ordered for those attending the meeting, and the bill is estimated at Rs 1 lakh, if not more.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been a strong votary of work culture, but her own work culture has invited criticism. For example: she took three days off for Kali Puja, which was on November 13. On all three days, work at Writers’ Buildings almost came to a standstill. Then on Chhat Puja on November 19, she left Writers’ at 4 in the afternoon for an interaction with devotees at Princep Ghat on the banks of the Hooghly. The next day she left Writers’ at 1 pm and went to Chandernagore to inaugurate a Jagatdhatri Puja. “How on earth can a chief minister have so much time? Where has her zeal gone? She used to work like a ‘bhoot’, as she herself pointed out so many times,” said one official.