Odisha CM Patnaik dumps scandal-hit ministers ahead of elections
In the ministry’s first reshuffle in his fifth term, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has kept scandal-ridden leaders out of government ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections.
Patnaik, also president of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), urged the newly appointed ministers to stay away from controversy and not to create problems that could tarnish the government’s image.
The CM had called on all ministers to step down on Saturday to pave the way for the ministry’s reconstitution ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
Of the 20 ministers who have resigned, Patnaik has only reappointed nine.
Among those who did not get a place in the new ministry are DS Mishra, Pratap Jena, Arun Kumar Sahoo, Pratap Jena and BK Arukha.
Although there was agitation by opposition parties against the five ministers on various issues, the CM did not give in to calls for their removal and continued to protect them. However, in the reshuffle on Sunday, he silently eliminated her.
According to a party insider, some of the 11 were not included in the new ministry due to inefficiency, while others could not find a place in it, giving the government a bad reputation as ministers.
DS Mishra, who was Minister of State for Home Affairs, allegedly protected the main defendant in the Kalahandi teacher’s kidnapping and murder case. The opposition organized an Odisha Bandh and held several demonstrations calling for Mishra’s dismissal.
Jyoti Ranjan Panigrahi has also been accused of having links to the main suspect in the teacher’s murder case.
Former Higher Education and Agriculture Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo was also denied a position at the ministry. During his term of office, the state ensured an increase in the income of the farmers. However, he was accused of protecting the main suspect in the kidnapping and murder of a 5-year-old girl in Nayagarh district. There was nationwide agitation calling for Sahoo’s release.
Patnaik hasn’t included Pratap Jena in his new team either. He previously held the departments of Panchayati Raj, Housing and Urban Development, and Potable Water.
Jena’s name had appeared in FIR in the sensational Mahanga double murder case. Two BJP leaders were killed in January 2021 in the Mahanga area of Cuttack County and Jena was one of 13 people charged. There was an outcry across the state and the BJP demanded action against him.
Ex-Forest and Environment Minister BK Arukha, who had worked in Patnaik’s ministry since 2009, was also unable to find a place in the new ministry. It has been alleged that he played a role in the mysterious death of an assistant conservator of the forest. However, Arukha is proposed as the new speaker of the assembly.
Patnaik met the new ministers at Naveen Niwas, his residence, and asked them not to engage in controversy.
Earlier, at least half a dozen MLAs touched the feet of the CM before taking the oath as minister here on Sunday.
(Only the headline and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard contributors; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)