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19 Feb 2017

Mamata industry shake-up

Rajiva Sinha
Pranesh Sarkar, TT, Calcutta, Feb. 18: The Bengal government today shifted out industries secretary Krishna Gupta, less than a month after chief minister Mamata Banerjee described the Bengal Global Business Summit as "super, super, super successful".
The new secretary of the large industries and enterprises department - as the commerce and industries department is now known - will be Rajiva Sinha.
Sinha, a 1986-batch IAS officer, is senior to Gupta by five years and is considered more proactive. "Sinha was more audible and visible during the chief minister's foreign trips," a source said.
Gupta's predecessor at the industries department was S. Kishore, who also kept a low profile. Both were said to have been handpicked by industries minister Amit Mitra.
"It seems that by placing Sinha in the industries department, the chief minister has initiated the process of taking a closer look at the industries department," an official said.
According to the sources, the chief minister wanted to bring some new faces into the department so that fresh ideas could be generated. "This is the reason why she brought in Sinha, who has done well in MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) in the past few years," said an official.
Gupta will now look after IT and electronics while Sinha will hold charge of large industries as well as his current departments of MSME and textiles.
One of the reasons the transfers drew attention to the Bengal summit that ended on January 21 was that the decision on the bureaucratic changes, unwittingly or otherwise, coincided with the conclusion of the Momentum Jharkhand business conclave in the neighbouring state.
The Jharkhand summit has drawn widespread praise for the way it was conducted and the big names it attracted. Bureaucrats in Ranchi had played a key role in making the business event a success.
The business summit ritual in several states was beginning to lose its shine because of the eye-popping claims at the end of each edition and scant details of actual implementation a year later.
Some officials in Bengal said the chief minister felt that the industries department needed to do a lot more in implementing the investment proposals that came up in the 2015 and 2016 summits. Although the government had said work on implementation of at least 40 per cent of the proposals was under way, the general perception is that little is visible on the ground.
A section of the officials said the chief minister wanted something "big" to happen in industry.
The sources said Mamata was keen to appoint a minister of state in the industries department last evening when she shuffled some of the junior ministers. "But she did not do so as some officials briefed her that such an appointment might be construed as a comment on the way the department is being run now," said a source.

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