Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday revamped his cabinet by inducting 10 new faces and elevating two ministers of state. The reshuffle came a day after 10 ministers resigned to pave way for the overhaul. The first reshuffle carried out by Patnaik, also BJD president, since he took over office for the fourth term in 2014, was with an aim of gearing up both the government as well as the party for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, particularly after the surge of the BJP in recent panchayat poll. The ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor S C Jamir in presence of the chief minister and other dignitaries at Raj Bhavan.
“Six new cabinet ministers and four ministers of state were sworn in today. Besides, two MoS were elevated to the rank of cabinet ministers,” Patnaik told reporters after the swearing in ceremony. Among the new faces, S N Patro, Niranjan Pujari, Pratap Jena, Maheswar Mohanty, Sashi Bhusan Behera and Prafulla Samal are cabinet ministers while Nrushingha Sahu, Anant Das, Chandra Sarathi Behera and Sushant Singh are MoS.
Prafulla Mallick and Ramesh Chandra Majhi were elevated to cabinet rank. Sushant Singh, Nrushingha Sahu, Anant Das, Chandra Sarathi Behera and Sashi Bhusan Behera are first time ministers. Patnaik brought back S N Patro, Prafulla Samal, Maheswar Mohanty, Pratap Jena and Niranjan Pujari into the ministry.
Allocating portfolios among ministers, Patnaik chose first timer Sashi Bhusan Behera, a former MP, for the finance and excise departments. Former Assembly Speaker Maheswar Mohanty was given revenue and disaster management departments while former cooperation and excise minister Damodar Rout got agriculture, fisheries and animal resource development and public enterprise departments.
Former revenue minister Bijayshree Routray was given forest and environment department while Bikram Keshari Arukha got rural development, information and public relations along with parliamentary affairs departments. Usha Devi, who had been woman and child welfare minister, was given planning, convergence, skill development and technical education departments while Prafulla Samal got WCD and Mission Shakti and MSME departments.
Rural Development Minister Badri Patra was given school and mass education department. S N Patro was given food supplies and consumer welfare and cooperation departments while ex-Speaker Niranjan Pujari was made Industries, Urban and Housing Development Minister.
Commerce and transport minister Ramesh Majhi, now elevated to cabinet rank, was given SC, ST, tribal development department while Pratap Jena has been made health and family welfare minister. He will also look after law department. Former agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy is now the minister for panchayati raj and drinking water while Prafulla Mallick, after his elevation to cabinet rank, has been named as the energy, steel & mines minister.
First timer Nrushingha Sahu has been given independent charge of commerce and transport department while Sushant Singh is the MoS Labour and Employment and state insurance. Former government chief whip Ananta Das is now the MoS for higher education while Chandra Sarathi Behera has been made sports and youth affairs minister along with Electronics and IT department.
Pradip Kumar Amat, who had resigned as Finance and Health Minister, is tipped to be appointed as the Speaker of the Odisha Assembly.