After months of dithering, Chief Minister and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik on Thursday effected the much hyped reshuffle of his ministry, inducting nine new ministers and axing five incumbents.
The ministerial rejig which has happened after more than a year, is considered to be significant in more ways than one. First, it caps the political turmoil that had gripped the state following the abortive coup attempt by Patnaik's one time Man Friday- Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, a Rajya Sabha MP who nursed dreams of being the Chief Minister by ousting his mentor.
Second- the ministerial expansion exercise was necessitated by vacancies in the ministry that had to be filled to ease the burden on the Chief Minister himself. While Pradeep Maharathy and A U Singh Deo had quit, owning moral responsibility for Pipili rape case and spurious liqour tragedy respectively, the Chief Miniister had rid his ministry of Sarada Nayak, Anjali Behera and Sanjeev Sahoo purportedly for their unswerving loyalty to Pyari Mohapatra.
|NAVEEN’S TEAM: 12 CABINET MINISTERS AND EIGHT MINISTERS OF STATE
|Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik- Home, General Administration, Works and Water Resources
New ministers: Cabinet
- Damodar Rout- Health & Family Welfare, MSME
- Kalpaturu Das- Panchayati Raj, Parliamentary Affairs
- Bijayshree Routray- Forest & Environment, Labour and Employees State Insurance
New ministers: MoS
- Pratap Keshari Deb- Food & Civil supplies, Employment and Technical Education
- Rabi Nanda- School & Mass Education
- Sarojinee Hembram- Textiles & handloom
- Rajnikanth Singh- Steel & mines
- Subrat Tarai- Commerce & Transport
- Arun Kumar Sahoo- Energy, information & public relations
Changed Portfolios of Existing Ministers
- Prasanna Acharya- Finance, Public Enterprises
- Debi Mishra- Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Resources Development
- Raghunath Mohanty- Law, Housing & Urban development, Information Technology
- Maheshwar Mohanty- Tourism & Culture, Planning & Coordination
- Ramesh Majhi- Sports, Youth Affairs, Science & Technology
- Bikram Arukh- Rural Development & Cooperation
Ministers who retained their portfolios
- S N Patra- Revenue & Disaster Management
- Usha Devi- Women & Child Development
- Lal Bihari Himirika- SC & ST Development, Minorities & Backward Classes
- Prafulla Chandra Ghadai
- Prafulla Samal
- Pratap Jena
- Pushpendra Singhdeo
- Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak
Pursuant to the expansion, the ministerial strength has gone up to 21 including 12 Cabinet ministers and eight ministers of states.
Along the expected lines, the reshuffle saw the comeback of veteran party leader and staunch Biju Patnaik loyalist Damodar Rout. The Paradip strongman was rewarded with health & family welfare and MSME (micro, small & medium enterprises) portfolios.
There was also induction of two new Cabinet ministers- Bijayshree Routray (forest & environment, labour and employees state insurance) and Kalpaturu Das (panchayati raj and parliamentary affairs).
However, the hopes of four ex NCP MLAs- Amar Prasad Satapathy, Ram Chandra Hansda, Prashant Nanda and Naveen Nanda who had joined BJD presumably to bag ministerial berths, were dashed.
Naveen also red flagged two veterans - Prafulla Chandra Ghadai and Prafulla Samal who held finance and tourism portfolios respectively. Three other incumbents - Atanu Sabyascahi Nayak, Pratap Jena and Pushpendra Singh Deo, perceived to be Mohapatra’s loyalists, were also exited from the ministry.
The ministry overhaul saw six new ministers of state - Arun Kumar Sahu (energy & information & public relations), Pratap Keshari Deb (food supplies & consumer welfare, employment & technical education & training), Rabi Narayan Nanda (school & mass education), Ramesh Chandra Majhi (sports & youth services, science & technology and public grievances & pension administration), Sarojini Hembram (textiles & handloom) and Subrat Tarai (commerce & transport).
There was also swapping of portfolios among ministers. With the exit of Ghadai, Prasanna Acharya, who previously held the health & family welfare portfolio, has been assigned the finance portfolio along with public enterprises.
Niranjan Pujari will now handle the crucial industries portfolio besides excise. Raghunath Mohanty has been assigned housing & urban development in addition to law and information technology. Only three incumbents - Surya Narayan Patro (revenue & disaster management), Usha Devi (women child development) and Lal Bihar Himirika (ST & SC development, minorities and backward classes) have held on their portfolios.