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No More Controversy Plz; CM

Bhubaneswar: While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik coolly eased out tainted Ministers from his Council of Ministers, he advised his new Team not to court controversies.

Mr. Patnaik met the new Ministers at Naveen Niwas, his residence and asked them not to get engaged in controversies.

In the first ministry reshuffle of his 5th term in office, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has kept away tainted leaders from the government ahead of the 2024 elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assembly.

Mr.Patnaik, also the Supremo of the Governing Biju Janata Dal (BJD), asked the newly appointed Ministers to keep away from controversies and not to create any issue which will affect the government’s image.

The CM had on Saturday asked all ministers to resign to pave the way for reconstituting the ministry ahead of the 2024 elections to the Lok Sabha and Assembly.

Among the 20 ministers who quit, Mr.Patnaik re-appointed only nine.

Those who did not get a place in the new ministry include DS Mishra, Pratap Jena, Arun Kumar Sahoo and BK Arukha.

Though there were agitations by opposition parties against the five Ministers over different issues, the CM did not succumb to the demand for their ouster and went on protecting them. However, during Sunday’s reshuffle, he eliminated them without making any noise.

According to a party insider, while some of the 11 were not included in the new Ministry due to inefficiency, others could not find a place in it for earning a bad name for the government as ministers.

 DS Mishra, who was MoS Home, was allegedly protecting the prime accused in the Kalahandi woman teacher’s kidnapping and murder case. The opposition organised an Odisha Bandh and held several demonstrations demanding Mr.Mishra’s dismissal.

Jyoti Ranjan Panigrahi was also accused of having links with the prime accused in the teacher’s murder case. 

Former Higher Education and Agriculture minister Arun Kumar Sahoo was also denied a berth in the ministry. The state ensured a rise in the income of farmers during his tenure. However, he was charged with protecting the prime accused in the kidnap and murder of a 5-year-old girl in Nayagarh district. There was a state-wide agitation demanding Mr.Sahoo’s dismissal.

Mr.Patnaik also did not induct Pratap Jena into his new team. He was earlier holding the Panchayati Raj, Housing and Urban Development and Drinking Water and Law departments.

Mr.Jena’s name had figured in the FIR in the sensational Mahanga double murder case. Two BJP leaders were killed in Mahanga area of Cuttack district in January 2021 and Jena was one among the 13 accused persons. There was a hue and cry across the state and the BJP demanded action against him.

Ex-Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Kesari Arukha, who was a member of Patnaik’s Ministry since 2009, also could not find a place in the new ministry.

However, Mr.Arukha is tipped to become the new Speaker of the Assembly.