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Naveen Patnaik inducts 10 new ministers, BJP calls reshuffle ‘panic reaction’

While 10 new ministers were sworn in, the ranks of two current ministers of state were elevated to that of Cabinet.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar |
May 8, 2017 2:32:40 am
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Governor S C Jamir with the new ministers after the oath-taking ceremony at the Raj Bhawan on Sunday. PTI

In the biggest-ever reshuffle of his ministry in the past 17 years, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday inducted 10 new ministers a day after he got half his ministers to resign in an effort to provide some energy to his party Biju Janata Dal before the 2019 polls.

While 10 new ministers were sworn in, the ranks of two current ministers of state were elevated to that of Cabinet.

The new ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor S C Jamir at a ceremony in Raj Bhawan on Sunday morning. Patnaik, many of his ministers and other dignitaries were present at the event.

Prafulla Mallick, Ramesh Chandra Majhi, Surya Narayan Patro, Niranjan Pujari, Pratap Jena, Maheswar Mohanty, Shashi Bhushan Behera, Prafulla Samal took oath as Cabinet ministers, while Nrushingha Charan Sahoo, Ananta Das, Chandrasarathi Behera and Sushant Singh took oath as ministers of state. Bijay Nayak from Mayurbhanj district was dropped from the list at the last minute.

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“I thank Naveen Patnaik for reposing faith in me. I will perform to the best of my abilities,” said minister Niranjan Pujari, who had quit as Assembly Speaker on Friday. The Speaker’s post is still vacant.

MoS (Independent), Steel and Mines, Labour and Employees’ State Insurance Prafulla Mallik and MoS (Independent), Commerce and Transport Ramesh Chandra Majhi were elevated to Cabinet rank.

The backward KBK districts, including Malkangiri, Rayagada, Koraput, Bolangir, Kalahandi and Nuapada, found no representation in the reshuffle. Patnaik also did not include anyone from Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Boudh, Kandhamal, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj. The BJD fared badly in the recent zilla parishad elections in many of these districts.

Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra alleged that protocol had been deliberately violated during the swearing-in. “The Leader of Opposition is to be treated on par with Cabinet ministers. But today the seating arrangement was in the fourth row,” said Mishra.

The Opposition BJP said the reshuffle was a “panic reaction” rather than an attempt at good governance. “Patnaik cannot fool people anymore by dropping some ministers and bringing in others. The CM owes an explanation to the state on deteriorating law and order and complete failure of governance,” said BJP spokesman Sajjan Sharma.

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