Ahead of cabinet reshuffle, half of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik's ministers resign
showing urgency in fighting a gung-ho BJP, chief minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik on Saturday accepted the resignations of 10 of his 20 ministers from his ministry a day ahead of the Cabinet rejig as punishment for their listless performance that led to BJP's best-ever panchayat poll performance.
Finance minister Pradip Amat, Micro, small and medium enterprises minister Jogendra Behera, Food supplies and consumer welfare minister Sanjay Dasburma, Panchayatiraj and law minister Arun Sahoo, Higher education minister Pradeep Panigrahi, School and mass education minister Debi Prasad Mishra, Housing and urban development minister Pushpendra Singhdeo, Sports minister Sudam Marndi, Energy minister Pranab Prakash Das, ST and SC development minister Lal Bihari Himirika today resigned from their posts ahead of ministry reshuffle.
Many of the ministers were either in-charge of the districts where the party was almost wiped out or posted less-than impressive results. In the 853 zilla parishad seats that went to polls in February and March this year, BJD won 474 of the 853 zilla parishad seats (down 178 from 2012), the BJP got 297 (up 261), and the Congress finished a poor third at 60(down by half).
"I am grateful to a number of ministers who have resigned voluntarily to work for the party. All of us in the party are very grateful to them," said Naveen Patnaik, on the sidelines of his meeting with elected members of various panchayatiraj institutions of Kendrapara and Malkangiri. Naveen said that the restructuring within BJD will help the party to serve the people of Odisha for their development and progress.
BJD sources said other ministers like Handloom and Textiles minister Snehangini Chhuria may be asked to resign for the party's poor panchayat poll performance in her assembly segment of Attabira. On Friday, Odisha Assembly Speaker Niranjan Pujari had resigned from his post over his possible inclusion in the ministry tomorrow. In his place Pradip Amat is likely to be the new Speaker.
Party sources said Naveen was likely to include Amar Satpathy, Debasish Nayak, Shashi Bhusan Behera, Maheswar Mohanty, Prafulla Samal, Ranendra Pratap Swain, Rabi Narayan Mohapatra, Niranjan Pujari, Pratap Jena, Sushant Singh and Surya Narayan Patro in the ministry.
To counter the resurgence of BJP, yesterday Naveen had named many of these ministers as observers of 11 districts in the state to further strengthen its base at grassroots level. While party vice president Surya Narayan Patro has been given the charge of Bolangir, Prafulla Samal has been assigned the charge of Jagatsinghpur district.
While Debi Prasad Mishra was asked to look after Sambalpur district, Pradeep Panigrahi has been entrusted with Gajapati. Similarly Arun Sahoo was put in-charge of Mayurbhanj and Sanjay Dasburma for Nabarangpur and Rayagada. Naveen loyalist Pranab Prakash Das was given the responsibility for Koraput and Malkangiri districts.