Though Chatterjee was ostensibly removed from the post to ‘lessen his burden’, the shake-up involving 12 ministers came on the heels of a meeting chaired by Banerjee last week when she pulled up several ministers for non-performance and failure to utilize funds.

The removal of Chatterjee, Trinamool Congress (TMC) General Secretary and considered second in rank in the Cabinet, followed muted criticism of his failure to deliver.

"Partha Chatterjee was retaining many portfolios and he has also to look after the party as he is the general secretary. He was under tremendous pressure. So in order to lessen his burden it has been decided that Amit Mitra, who is also the Finance Minister, will look after the Industry and Commerce Department," the Chief Minister said.

She said Chatterjee would retain IT, electronics and parliamentary affairs departments and will also assist her in her departments.

Chatterjee, a trusted lieutenant of the Banerjee, has played an important role in shaping up TMC's policies.

In a bid to speed up development work ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee re-allotted portfolios and inducted two new faces in the reshuffle of the 31-month-old ministry, which also saw a minister of state getting independent charge.

The new faces are Shashi Panja, daughter-in-law of former party leader and Union minister Ajit Panja, and Binay Burman.

Panja is MLA from Shyampukur in north Kolkata, while Burman represents   Mathabhanga Assembly seat in Cooch Behar district.

Burman replaced Hiten Burman as the Forest Minister, who had resigned citing health grounds.

Swapan Debnath, Minister of State for Micro and Small-scale Enterprises and Textiles, was given independent charge. Debnath is the party legislator from Burdwan district.

With today's reshuffle, the strength of the ministers, including the Chief Minister, has gone up to 44.

Governor MK Narayanan administered the oath of office and secrecy to the two new ministers in Raj Bhavan in the presence of the Chief Minister and members of her Cabinet.

(Agencies)

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