Amid ululations and sound of conch shells, Naveen Patnaik, 72, walked carefully to the microphones and fished for his glasses in the pocket of his unkempt white kurta. In his trademark gravelly voice that was constantly punctuated by applause, Patnaik on Wednesday took oath as the Chief Minister of Odisha for a record fifth time.
The only political leader to be the chief minister of Odisha five times, Patnaik joined an exclusive club of continuous fifth-term CMs Sikkim’s Pawan Chamling and West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu. With two emphatic victories in 2014 and 2019, he also withstood the Narendra Modi wave twice.
Governor Ganeshi Lal also administered oath of office to 11 ministers and nine ministers of state.
Patnaik tweeted: “It’s a nostalgic personal journey for me to reminisce the past 19 years. Today while I take oath of office for the 5th term, I humbly accept the responsibility that comes with the faith my 4.5 crore family members have reposed in me, yet again.”
Congratulating Patnaik, PM Modi tweeted, “I assure complete cooperation from the Centre in working for Odisha’s progress.”
Patnaik’s siblings — industrialist Prem Patnaik and New York-based author Geeta Mehta — were present at the swearing-in ceremony, as were Opposition leaders, badminton ace Pulella Gopichand, and industrialists such as Kumar Mangalam Birla, Navin Jindal and Sangeeta Reddy, among others.
Among BJD leaders who took oath as ministers are veterans such as Ranendra Pratap Swain (Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare, Cooperation) and Padmanabha Behera (Planning and Convergence, Commerce and Transport), as well as first-time MLAs such as Tusharkanti Behera (Electronics and IT, Sports and Youth), Raghunandan Das (Water Resources, Information and Public Relations), and Padmini Dian (Handlooms, Textiles and Handicraft).
There are only two women in the 20-member council of ministers — Padmini Dian and Tukuni Sahoo.
Former Congress leader Naba Das will be the Heath and Family Welfare minister. The Finance portfolio went to Niranjan Pujari, while Steel and Mines will be under Prafulla Mallick. Pratap Jena is now in charge of Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water, Law, Housing and Urban Development. Arun Sahoo will head Agriculture and Higher Education departments. Revenue and Disaster Management has gone to Sudam Marandi. The CM has kept Home, General Administration and Public Grievance portfolios.
Identifying some of the challenges, Bolangir MLA and Congress veteran Narasingh Mishra said: “Schemes such as KALIA and Biju Yuva Vahini have been adopted without financial provision. The government will continue to spend huge amounts, but where will those funds come from?”
In first meet, Naveen fulfils 2 key pledges
Bhubaneswar: As part of BJD’s commitment to farmers, in the first Cabinet meeting on Wednesday the state government raised the number of KALIA beneficiaries to 75 lakh farm families — 33 lakh more than the existing 42 lakh families. The government said that fund release began within hours after the swearing-in and that nearly 25 lakh additional families will be assisted in a week’s time.
The Cabinet also approved Rs 1,000 crore worth of government businesses to be done by women SHGs through Mission Shakti. “With these two resolutions, the promise I have made about KALIA and Mission Shakti to be implemented on the day we take office is honoured,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said. —ENS