The move to induct four new ministers from West Bengal on Wednesday evening was seen as a ‘reward’ to those regions where the BJP gained during the 2021 assembly polls.
Although Babul Supriyo and Debashree Chaudhari resigned from their posts as MoS environment and women and child development, inclusion of Nishith Pramanik, Dr Subhas Sarkar, John Barla and Shantanu Thakur has been done keeping in mind a specific vote bank, according to political analysts.
Hailing from Cooch Behar, 35-year-old Nishit Pramanik is the youngest member of the Modi’s team. The Rajbongshi leader has been given MoS Home and his incorporation in home affairs is indeed politically significant.
Another, John Barla, who is now the junior minister for minority affairs, is the tribal leader from North Bengal. He has been in the news recently for demanding a separate Union Territory carved out of north Bengal alleging lack of development in the region. Barla has been instrumental in winning all seats of Alipurduar in the 2021 assembly election, therefore he has been rewarded which signifies that the BJP also want to cash in on his vote bank.
The BJP high command has appointed two ministers from north Bengal, calculating the ‘adivasi’ vote bank, the tea garden issue and Rajbongshi votes. Moreover, since BJP did well in these areas in the state assembly polls, the MPs have been elevated to ministerial level.
In South Bengal too, Shantanu Thakur, 38, has been given ministry of state for shipping with a focus on Matua vote. Shantanu helped BJP immensely in making a strong platform in Matua dominated areas of Bengal.
Interestingly, Dr Subhas Sarkar, a doctor by profession, with the Sangh background, represents Jungal Mahal, is now the junior minister of education.
Commenting on Modi’s cabinet expansion and reshuffle, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “The arithmetic that has been followed for this reshuffle won’t work in Bengal”.
Interestingly, the reset signifies that despite losing the Bengal assembly polls, the state hold importance for BJP that is already gearing up for the 2024 General Elections.