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Pradeep Pattanayak

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's direction to his Ministers to submit their performance cards has sent the power corridor into a tizzy with speculations of a big change looming in the horizon.  

After the formation of the new cabinet in 2019, CM Naveen had instructed the Ministers to submit their performance reports in the first week of every month, however, the outbreak of Covid-19 crisis followed by recent rural and urban elections put paid to the process. 

Recently, after the Chief Minister’s direction, the Ministers have become active once again. 

As per reports, the Chief Minister has sought reports from Ministers about their monthly visits, 5T initiative, steps taken in their respective departments, new schemes, results of government initiatives, problems in their respective departments and reviews carried out. 

“I am giving details about the projects I have taken up, the places I have visited and the government works executed in a month. I am waiting for any instruction for me from the Chief Minister,” said Water Resources Minister Raghunandan Das. 

Similarly, Science & Technology, Public Enterprises and Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disability Minister Ashok Chandra Panda said he has never failed in submitting reports of his three departments. “I have regularly been submitting the reports of my three departments regarding all the developments taking place,” Panda said. 

The cabinet of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s fifth term, which was formed on May 29, 2019, will complete three years of formation in a few weeks' time. 

As of now, talks are abuzz that a major reshuffle is on the cards with some even pointing towards the fact that the performance report is a part of that exercise. 

It is expected that the Cabinet expansion will take place soon considering the Ministers’ overall performance, achievements during election times, loyalty towards the party and the calculations with respect to prospect of 2024 general election. 

There are also indications that the change will also take place in administration and BJD’s organisational level. Political analysts opine that the new cabinet would continue for the next two years till the 2024 general polls. 

When asked about the possibility of reshuffle and cabinet expansion, government chief whip Pramila Mallick cleverly parried the question, saying the CM can only clarify it. 

“Asking Ministers for performance reports can be dubbed as a step towards a big change ahead of a big fight. Since the Opposition parties have become more active and the party (BJD) is struggling with infightings, a big change is the need of the hour for the party,” observed senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty. 

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is preparing a blue print to add more strength to the party and the grand old party Congress is preparing for a change in leadership, the move by CM Naveen seems to be a part of the BJD’s strategy for 2024 general elections. 

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