With an incredible but sweeping fourth consecutive victory in the Assembly polls, 67-year-old Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday took oath as the chief minister of Orissa becoming the first politician in the state to become the CM for the fourth time.
Despite all naysayers predicting a tough challenge for the ruling BJD from the Congress and BJP in the state polls, Naveen Patnaik’s party swept the elections winning 117 seats in the 147-member Assembly, bettering his 2009 record of 103 seats. So far, J B Patnaik of Congress has become CM of the state for three times and Naveen’s father, Biju Patnaik, was the chief minister on two occasions.
At a glittering function held on the lawns of Raj Bhavan here Wednesday morning, Naveen Patnaik was sworn in by Governor S C Jamir with a team of 21 other ministers — 11 Cabinet and 10 Ministers of State. The chief minister’s sister, writer Geeta Mehta, was also present at the swearing-in function. Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and BJP national president Rajnath Singh congratulated Naveen Patnaik on Twitter.
While Naveen Patnaik has retained home, general administration, water resources and public works department, former Speaker Pradip Amat has been given finance portfolio.
Pradip Maharathi, who had to resign in January 2012 after being embroiled in the alleged gangrape of a Dalit girl, has made a comeback in the Cabinet. He has been given agriculture, fisheries and animal resources development portfolio.
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Veteran Bijoyshree Routray has been made Cabinet minister for revenue and disaster management, while Bikram Keshari Arukh forest & environment and parliamentary affairs minister. Badri Narayan Patra, who won with the highest margin — over 80,000 votes — has been made rural development minister.
Among 10 Ministers of State, seven are first timers.
Though Naveen Patnaik has tried to work out regional balance, districts like Balasore, Malkangiri, Sundargarh and Sambalpur have gone unrepresented in the new council of ministers. Of the 22 ministers, 10 are from coastal districts of undivided Cuttack, Balasore and Ganjam and Puri. There are two women, including Usha Devi and first-timer Snehangini Chhuria.
There are speculations that Pramila Mallick, who was minister in the previous cabinet, could be made Speaker of Assembly, making her the first woman to hold the coveted post.