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Odisha CM Patnaik Drops Scandal-tainted Ministers Ahead Of Elections

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

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

Patnaik, also the president of the ruling 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, Patnaik re-appointed only nine.

Those who did not get a place in the new ministry include DS Mishra, Pratap Jena, Arun Kumar Sahoo, Pratap Jena and B K 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 minister of state for 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 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 Sahoo's dismissal.

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 departments.

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 BK Arukha, who was a member of Patnaik's ministry since 2009, also could not find a place in the new ministry. It was alleged that he had some role in the mysterious death of an assistant conservator of forest. However, Arukha is tipped to become the new Speaker of the Assembly.

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

Earlier, at least half-a-dozen of MLAs touched the feet of the CM before taking the oath as ministers here on Sunday.


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odisha chief minister naveen patnaik