Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 21:
After being denied berths in the new Odisha council of ministers, many sulking senior BJD leaders have expressed their discontent for ignoring them and their districts while distributing ministerial berths.
Some of them, like Surya Narayan Patro, Maheswar Mohanty and Pravat Tripathy were so peeved that they skipped the swearing in ceremony of the new council of ministers at the Raj Bhavan yesterday.
Surya Patro, for one, said he ‘did not feel like’ attending the ceremony after being denied a ministerial berth. Puri strongman Maheswar Mohanty reportedly made his disappointment known in no uncertain terms when he chose not to accompany Naveen Patnaik when he visited the Lord Jagannath temple hours before being sworn in as the Chief Minister for the fourth successive time – something that would have been unthinkable in normal circumstances.
“I have no problems with the chief minister denying a ministry to me. But he should have not ignored my district completely. What will I tell the people? We keep talking of the step motherly attitude of Centre. What is this if not step motherly treatment?” said a leader from Baleswar.
Senior BJD leader Bedprakash Agrawal, who was considered a strong contender for a place in the cabinet, played its safe saying the final decision in such matters always rests with the chief minister.
Even as the chief minister inducted three ministers from one district – and even more, as in the case of his home district Ganjam – there was no representation from 12 districts in the newly formed Ministry.
The 12 districts are Angul, Baleswar, Deogarh, Gajapati, Jharsuguda, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Sundargarh and Sonepur. In sharp contrast, Ganjam district has got four ministers, including the chief himself, while Puri got two ministers Pradip Maharathy and Sanjay Dasburma.
Even though women have voted for the party in large numbers, a meager 9% (two ministers) have got representation in the ministry. Ten women have been elected to the Assembly on BJD ticket this time.
Women have been neglected during selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls also. However, the state government has reservations of 50% for women in panchayat level.