Naveen Patnaik Allocates Portfolios to Team of Ministers, Keeps Home & Public Grievance Depts with Himself
Along with Patnaik, 11 ministers of Cabinet rank and nine of state rank took oath of office and secrecy at the swearing-in ceremony held in the open for the first time in Odisha’s history.
BJD President Naveen Patnaik signs a document as he takes oath as Odisha chief minister on Wednesday. (PTI)
Bhubaneswar: Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik, who was sworn in as Odisha chief minister for a record fifth term on Wednesday, has picked his council of ministers with utmost care, trying to balance calls for regional representation and mixing proven experience with new energy and enthusiasm.
Along with Patnaik, 11 ministers of Cabinet rank and nine of state rank took oath of office and secrecy at the swearing-in ceremony held in the open for the first time in Odisha’s history. The state Cabinet includes four ministers from the Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities and two from the Scheduled Caste (SC).
Patnaik kept home, general administration and public grievances departments with himself. He retained six of his Cabinet colleagues from his last government, giving a miss to the two women ministers from earlier. BJD old hand Surya Narayan Patro, who served as a minister in the cabinets of Patnaik and his father Biju Patnaik, was named the new Speaker while former Speaker Pradip Amat has been dropped.
Of the 10 new faces, two -- Naba Kishore Das and Tukuni Sahu -- were given the Cabinet rank. Das, a businessman-turned-politician who was a two-term Congress MLA till he joined the BJD about three months before the polls, was given the health and family welfare portfolios. In the 2009 and 2014 polls, he had beaten BJD heavyweight Kishore Mohanty in Jharsuguda constituency. This time, the 57-year-old Das defeated BJP’s Dinesh Kumar Jain by a margin of 45,559 votes.
Sahu, who became a BJD legislator from Titlagarh constituency for the second time by defeating the Congress party’s Surendra Singh Bhoi, has been named the minister for women and child development along with the Mission Shakti project.
Patnaik’s special attention to western Odisha was visible in his choice of ministers as, apart from Das and Sahu, he has included fifth-term MLA Niranjan Pujari from Sonepur and three-term MLA Sushant Singh from Bhatli in the council of ministers in the Cabinet rank.
Pujari, who was Speaker in his last term and also served as the minister for excise, industry and food supply, has been given the finance and excise portfolios this time. Singh, who was the minister for labour and energy in the last government, has got the labour and rural development portfolios.
Among the new faces in the Cabinet, all eyes are on minister of state Padmini Dian. A tribal and agriculturist, she made her debut in politics by contesting as a BJD candidate in Kotpad Assembly segment in the tribal-dominated Koraput district and beat Chandrashekhar Majhi of the Congress. At 32, she is the youngest minister in the new Odisha cabinet. Dian is the sister of BJD leader Manohar Randhari, who was re-elected from Dabugaon Assembly constituency. Her husband works with Odisha Police.
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