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Oath taking on Wednesday: hectic lobbying for ministerial berth begins in Odisha

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By Subrat Das

Bhubaneswar: As the oath taking of the new ministry is just three days ahead, hectic lobbying for the ministerial berths has started in the state capital. Rush of the ministerial aspirants is seen in the chief minister’s residence Naveen Niwas.

Speculation is now rife as to who will find place in the 21-member ministry headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who has led the party to power in the state for the consecutive fifth term ?

Eye is on who among the 21 ministers in the outgoing ministry will find place in the new pack. Only three ministers are missing this time. They are Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty, who has been defeated, Forest Minister Bijoyshree Routray, who has opted out from the electoral race this time and ST Welfare Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi, who has been elected to Lok Sabha from Nabarangpur. Out of the all other ministers, who have got re-elected to the state assembly, who will be lucky  enough to get reinduction and who will get the plum portfolio, especially the Finance? This million dollar question is hung on the face of every body.

A few experienced leaders have entered the assembly this time. Rajya Sabha member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik has been elected to the state assembly with highest margin. It is expected that chief minister Naveen Patnaik may honour the popular mandate by assigning him ministerial responsibility. Former Civil Supplies Minister and Rajya Sabha member Pratap Keshari Deb, who is also a party’s spokesperson, is also a possible choice.

The ruling BJD had undergone a revamp plan like “Kamraj Plan“ in May, 2017 after its poor show in the panchayat polls. A few young ministers such as Pranab Prakash Das, Debi Prasad Mishra, Pradeep Panigrahi and Arun Sahoo had resigned from the ministry to take organisational responsibility. They have been re-elected to the state assembly and may be rewarded for their sacrificial gesture, hope party insiders.

Several experienced hands like Pramila Mallick, Ranendra Pratap Swain, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak and Sudam Marandi, who had earlier discharged ministerial responsibilities, may also be inducted in the new ministry. Prasant Muduli, who has trounced Congress heavyweight Chiranjib Biswal may be rewarded, think party cadres.

Naveen’s woman card has this time paid off. Twelve women have been elected to the House this time. The new ministry may, therefore, witness more women representation this time, it is believed. The outgoing ministry had only two women members.