New Delhi: With Pranab Mukherjee resigning as the Finance Minister after his nomination for the Presidential election, speculation is rife in the Congress over a possible Cabinet reshuffle to accommodate representatives from West Bengal.
Congress has six Lok Sabha members from West Bengal while its ally Trinamool has 19. The state sends 42 members to the Lok Sabha. Pradip Bhattacharya, the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WPCC) chief, is the lone Rajya Sabha MP of Congress from the state. Mukherjee was the only minister of the Congress from West Bengal in the Cabinet.
An All India Congress Committee (AICC) leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was "natural" that one or more MPs from West Bengal Congress are inducted into the Union Cabinet. Names that are doing round for induction are WPCC chief Bhattacharya, party MPs Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Deepa Dasmunshi and Mausam Noor.
Though the Congress has six Lok Sabha members from West Bengal, Pranab is the only minister in the Cabinet.
Mausm Noor, is considered close to Rahul Gandhi, while Adhir is known as a Mamata-baiter in the Congress. Deepa Dashmunsi is the wife of Congress veteran Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. Sources in the AICC say that with Mukherjee, representing Jangipur in Murshidabad district, set to become President, the effort is likely to be on representing other regions from the state, more so those regions, which are the Congress strongholds.
Congress' future relationship with the Trinamool Congress will determine who will be the next PCC chief of West Bengal in case Bhattacharya joins the Union Cabinet, the sources said.
If Congress-Trinamool ties are back to normal after the President's election, the Congress is likely to nominate as the next PCC chief somebody who does not have a strident anti-Mamata approach. This rules out the chances of Deepa Dasmunshi and Adhir. In that eventuality, the former PCC chief Manas Bhuniya,
a close associate of Mukherjee, could again be given the mantle.