Odishatv Bureau

While less than a year is left for the elections in 2024, the ruling-BJD is grappling with organisational issues. In a bid to make inroads into the BJP bastions, the party has to get its organisation in order. Against this backdrop, delinquent ministers have been removed, while experienced faces have been roped in. So, the new ministers have the twin-task of strengthening the organisation while dealing with the challenges that their departmental responsibilities entail. 

Bikram Keshari Arukha, Sudam Marndi and Sarada Nayak were sworn in as ministers on Monday. While Bikram Keshari Arukha has been given the Finance portfolio, the School and Mass Education department has fallen into Sudam Marndi's kitty. Labour & Employees' State Insurance department has gone to Sarada Nayak.  

For the new Finance minister, Bikram Keshari Arukha, preparing the interim budget ahead of the elections is going to be a significant challenge. Similarly, School & Education Minister, Sudam Marndi has to tackle the indefinite dharna call given by primary school teachers from May 24 in Bhubaneswar, demanding a starting grade pay of Rs 2800. Then there are challenges pertaining to the abolition of contractual appointments, fake teachers, and hassle & error-free conduct of board examinations. In the election year, issues like bonded labour, trafficking of labour & provision for minimum wages are going to be the key challenges for the new Labour Minister. 

"Under the leadership of CM Naveen Patnaik, the Finance department will discharge its duties in a smooth manner and will work towards fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Odisha," said Bikram Keshari Arukha

"I am fully prepared to ensure smooth functioning of the School and Mass Education Department. I have full confidence that I will be able to realise the vision that the CM has for this department," said Sudam Marndi. 

"Even though the department is new, I have experience. My area is a labour-dense area and I am well aware of the problems of the labourers. Though I have less time on my side, the CM has put faith in me," said Sarada Nayak. 

Not only administration, many believe that the CM & party president, Naveen Patnaik has brought in these experienced hands to strengthen the organisation as well. There are discussions in the political circles that the rejig in the ministry has been done to put the organisational issues in order in southern & western Odisha and target the tribal vote bank in Mayurbhanj. 

As BJD’s dominance and base are dwindling in Ganjam in view of a leadership crisis following the illness of Surya Patro and the expulsion of Pradeep Panigrahi, BJD has picked heavyweight, Bikram Keshari Arukha for the Cabinet.

The reason behind choosing Sharada Nayak is believed to be the clout of BJP MP Jual Oram and the saffron party's 3 MLAs in the Sundargarh Parliamentary area. Hence, to checkmate the BJP, the BJD has included Sarada Nayak in the Cabinet.

"Bikram Keshari Arukha will play a key role in strengthening the party's position in Ganjam. It is not that Sudam Marndi will address all issues plaguing the School & Mass Education department, but he will definitely bolster the party organisation in Mayurbhanj," said senior journalist, Rabi Das. 

So, will these leaders succeed in discharging the twin responsibilities, or will it prove to be too much on their plates?