Pradeep Pattanayak

The resignation of Odisha speaker, Bikram Keshari Arukha and two ministers- Samir Dash and Srikant Sahu-has kicked off speculations regarding new faces to fill their shoes.

While a post in the State cabinet has been lying vacant since the assassination of the then health minister Naba Das, the resignation of the two ministers has taken the total number of vacant posts in the cabinet to three. Though the current Revenue Minister Pramila Mallik has been given additional charge of 2 departments, speculations are rife as to the new entrants in the cabinet. 

It is being discussed that one or two faces from western Odisha may be taken into the cabinet. And the name of newly-elected Dipali Das is doing the rounds. 

At the same time, the names of legislators Susant Singh, Sarada Nayak, Prashant Muduli, Debi Prasad Mishra, Uma Samantray and Bikram Keshari Arukha are also being discussed to be in the race. 

Similarly, in the race for the Speaker’s seat, the names of Amar Satapathy, Sashi Bhushan Behera, Debi Prasad Mishra, Prafulla Samal, and Niranjan Pujari are cropping up. 

“Ours is a party known for discipline. Here, all have faith in the leader. He takes the decision at the right time and for the betterment of the party and the government. Hearing these words, I never get excited nor depressed,” said senior BJD leader, Sashi Bhushan Behera. 
Senior BJD leader Debi Prasad Mishra said, “It is our leader Naveen Patnaik who will take a call.”

It is being discussed that Naveen Patnaik is taking care of his clean image in the run-up to the 2024 general elections by firing ministers mired in controversies. It has been discussed that steps are being taken to strengthen the organization in the Ganjam district by including Bikram Keshari Arukha in the cabinet. At the same time, efforts are on to streamline the organization in Puri as Samir Dash from the district had been the minister for four years and there is lack of coordination among Dash and Sanjay Dasburma, Maheswar Mohanty, Pinaki Mishra, and Uma Samantaray. 

Another theory is also doing the rounds that someone from western Odisha would be given a ministerial berth to check the BJP as the party has lost its strong leader Naba Das.  

“It is wrong to think that the party has become weak in Ganjam district. In fact, the Biju Janata Dal has become more powerful in Ganjam district,” said Berhampur MP Chandrasekhar Sahu. 

BJD MLA Umakanta Samantaray said, “I have never needed any position to serve the people of my constituency. I will accept whatever responsibility is given to me.”

According to political analyst, K Ravi, “The Cabinet reshuffle assumes little importance.  What is important is whom he will take into the cabinet and whom he will give the responsibility of districts to strengthen the organization.”