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Centre backs Bengal cadre officer as Tea Board chairman

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, May 9 � In a curious move, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has circulated a proposal to appoint the Principal Secretary to West Bengal Chief Minister, Subesh Kumar Das, as the next chairman of the Tea Board, putting an end to Assam�s claim. The latest move of the Commerce Ministry comes at a time when a political void exists in the State owing to the Assembly polls.

The issue of appointment of the Tea Board chairman has been hanging fire since October last, but it had gathered momentum recently when the Commerce and Industry Ministry moved the note backing Das�s candidature, breaking the unwritten convention.

Both Assam and West Bengal have been alternately nominating the chairman of the Tea Board and by convention it was Assam�s turn because the last incumbent Basudev Banerjee was from West Bengal. The compromise formula was worked out following the demand to shift the Tea Board headquarters from Kolkata to Assam, which had gained momentum during the Assam Agitation.�

Sources said that the Commerce Ministry after sitting on the issue all this while suddenly moved the note after the Civil Services Board (CSB) on April 18 sent a note proposing three names including KK Mittal, MGVK Bhanu and Maninder Singh, all empanelled joint secretaries to the Department of Personnel and Training. �

Sources said that there were five applicants for the post of chairman of Tea Board including two officers of the Indian Forest Service (IFS). All belonged to the Assam-Meghalaya cadre.�The note was to be processed before the Appointment Committee of Cabinet (ACC) was to take a call on the appointment, sources said.�

However, even as the Department of Personnel and Training under the Prime Minister was to start the formal process, the Commerce Ministry moved a fresh note proposing the West Bengal Chief Minister�s Principal Secretary�s name, ostensibly under pressure from the tea lobby. �

As reported earlier, though it was Assam�s turn to nominate for the post, it had to lobby with the Commerce and Industry Ministry, as the top officials of West Bengal unleashed a massive campaign to corner the post.�

In the past, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi wrote to the Commerce Ministry, as did Minister for Development ofNorth Eastern Region (DoNER) Bijoy Krishna Handique and the issue had even figured in the Parliament.

Since then a massive campaign has been going on and last December the Commerce Ministry had finalised a proposal to appoint an Assam cadre officer to the post but the move suddenly fizzled out.�

Sources said that if theCommerce Ministry�s proposal is endorsed by the ACC, then the Tea Board would have West Bengal cadre officials in the posts of chairman and deputy chairman. Roshini Sen is currently the deputy chairman of the Tea Board.

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Centre backs Bengal cadre officer as Tea Board chairman

NEW DELHI, May 9 � In a curious move, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has circulated a proposal to appoint the Principal Secretary to West Bengal Chief Minister, Subesh Kumar Das, as the next chairman of the Tea Board, putting an end to Assam�s claim. The latest move of the Commerce Ministry comes at a time when a political void exists in the State owing to the Assembly polls.

The issue of appointment of the Tea Board chairman has been hanging fire since October last, but it had gathered momentum recently when the Commerce and Industry Ministry moved the note backing Das�s candidature, breaking the unwritten convention.

Both Assam and West Bengal have been alternately nominating the chairman of the Tea Board and by convention it was Assam�s turn because the last incumbent Basudev Banerjee was from West Bengal. The compromise formula was worked out following the demand to shift the Tea Board headquarters from Kolkata to Assam, which had gained momentum during the Assam Agitation.�

Sources said that the Commerce Ministry after sitting on the issue all this while suddenly moved the note after the Civil Services Board (CSB) on April 18 sent a note proposing three names including KK Mittal, MGVK Bhanu and Maninder Singh, all empanelled joint secretaries to the Department of Personnel and Training. �

Sources said that there were five applicants for the post of chairman of Tea Board including two officers of the Indian Forest Service (IFS). All belonged to the Assam-Meghalaya cadre.�The note was to be processed before the Appointment Committee of Cabinet (ACC) was to take a call on the appointment, sources said.�

However, even as the Department of Personnel and Training under the Prime Minister was to start the formal process, the Commerce Ministry moved a fresh note proposing the West Bengal Chief Minister�s Principal Secretary�s name, ostensibly under pressure from the tea lobby. �

As reported earlier, though it was Assam�s turn to nominate for the post, it had to lobby with the Commerce and Industry Ministry, as the top officials of West Bengal unleashed a massive campaign to corner the post.�

In the past, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi wrote to the Commerce Ministry, as did Minister for Development ofNorth Eastern Region (DoNER) Bijoy Krishna Handique and the issue had even figured in the Parliament.

Since then a massive campaign has been going on and last December the Commerce Ministry had finalised a proposal to appoint an Assam cadre officer to the post but the move suddenly fizzled out.�

Sources said that if theCommerce Ministry�s proposal is endorsed by the ACC, then the Tea Board would have West Bengal cadre officials in the posts of chairman and deputy chairman. Roshini Sen is currently the deputy chairman of the Tea Board.