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Arukha Gets Finance

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday allocated an important Finance Department to Bikram Keshari Arukha, who took oath as Cabinet Minister this morning.

Sudam Marndi has been given School & Mass Education Department while Sarada Prasad Nayak is the new Labour & Employees’ State Insurance Minister.

After a long time, Chief Minister’s home district Ganjam gets the Finance portfolio. Late Ram Krushna Patnaik was Minister for Finance along with Rural Development and Agriculture in Biju Patnaik’s Ministry from 1990 to 1995.

He joined the Naveen Patnaik Ministry in 2000 and served in Finance, Agriculture, and Planning and Coordination till he fell out with the leadership and quit BJD.

Shri Patnaik held the Finance portfolio for some months in 1990 and again during March 2000 to August 2002.

Shri Arukha has been representing the Bhanjanagar Assembly constituency in Ganjam since 1995 and he has held several positions since 2008.

He was the Assembly Speaker till his resignation from the post on May 12. A six-time MLA, Shri Arukha was first elected to the Assembly on a Janata Dal ticket.

The exit of Srikanta Sahu as Labour Minister is believed to have paved the way for Shri Arukha’s return to the Cabinet.

Shri Sahu, the MLA from Polasara in Ganjam district, resigned from the Cabinet on May 12 after a woman BJD worker accused him of sexual harassment.

Shri Arukha’s entry into the Cabinet indicates he may get an important organisational responsibility in Ganjam ahead of the Assembly and general elections next year.

Shri Marndi, who has been given School & Mass Education Department. His wife is a teacher. The Government has given the Department to Shri Marndi so that he can better manage it, sources said.

Shri Marndi, a MLA from Bangiriposi in Mayurbhanj, has been re-inducted to check the BJP’s growth in the tribal-dominated district.

Shri Marndi is a prominent tribal face of the party. He started his political career in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and was elected thrice to the Assembly — 1990, 1995, and 2000 — on a JMM ticket.  He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Mayurbhanj in 2004 on a JMM ticket. He joined the BJD ahead of the 2014 elections and has been an MLA since then.

His reinduction in less than a year is seen as an attempt by the BJD to regain the lost ground in Mayurbhanj district. In 2019, the BJP not just won the Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat but also bagged six of the nine Assembly seats in the district.

The BJP’s Mayurbhanj MP, Bishweswar Tudu, is currently the Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Tribal Affairs. The BJP is also trying to cash in on its move to make Droupadi Murmu, who is from Mayurbhanj, India’s first President from the Adivasi community.

With Karanjia MLA Basanti Hembram already accommodated in the Cabinet, Mayurbhanj district will now have two Ministers in the Cabinet.

Similarly, Rourkela MLA Sarada Prasad Nayak was also re-inducted as a reward for his work to ensure landslide victory in the Jharsuguda by-poll.

Besides, the entry of three-time MLA Shri Nayak into the Cabinet is also seen as an attempt to counter the BJP, which has emerged strong in Sundargarh in recent years.