Kolkata, Sep 13 : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday remembered
former Union Minister and one of the founding members of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) Ajit Panja, on his birth anniversary “Fondly remembering former Union Minister and one of the founding members of @AITCofficial , Ajit Panja, on his birth anniversary,” Ms Banerjee posted on her social networking page.
Born on this day in 1936, a renowned barrister, Panja had handled various portfolios
in the ministries of three prime ministers - Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Atal
Bihari Vajpayee. Known for his administrative acumen and electioneering and public relations skills, Panja joined the Congress in the late 1960s, and became a legislator in 1971 from the Burtola seat, which he also won twice later in 1972 and 1982.
Panja, who won the Kolkata East Lok Sabha constituency six times consecutively from 1984 to 1999 before losing in the 2004 election, was twice given independent charge as minister of state of the key information and broadcasting ministry (1986-1988 and 1991-1993). In 1985, he was made the union minister of state for planning, and later allocated food and civil supplies, and finance by Gandhi.
Between 1991 and 1993, Panja was union minister of state (independent charge
of coal) in the Narasimha Rao regime.
In 1998, he left the Congress and joined the Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee and became the union minister of state for external affairs in the National Democratic Alliance government of Vajpayee Panja became a member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 1973 and was appointed West Bengal Pradesh Congress president in 1980. He continued in the post till 1981. A man of many parts, Panja was a versatile actor and a writer. On the stage, he played with great distinction the role of Sri Ramakrishna in the successful Bengali production "Nati Binodini", which had 151 shows in India and abroad.
Panja bagged the Uttam Award and Kalakar award for his acting in the play, which was staged at various places including London, Washington, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Bristol, besides the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. He also wrote several books and booklets including "Encephalitis Attack in West Bengal"; "Ganatantra Hatya" (Bengali); "Shiksha Kshetra Nairajya" (Bengali); "Dunkel Agreement" (Bengali) and "Mining Medicines HandBook for Health Workers and Mine Workers". (UNI)