Several former ministers of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government, who have not been retained and dropped from the new team of the council of ministers in the recent cabinet reshuffle, on Monday met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the latter's official residence in Bhubaneswar.
At least 10 former ministers were dropped from the Naveen Patnaik's new team of council of ministers. As per sources, a discussion is underway between the leaders and the CM regarding various issues.
According to sources, the party supremo has summoned the dropped ministers to assign them new responsibilities. Ten ministers including Pranab Prakash Das, Sushant Singh, Pratap Jena, Divya Shanker Mishra, Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi among others held a meeting with the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Naveen Niwas.
The ministers were told to look after the constructive and organisational activities of the party. They were also told to strengthen party at the grassroots level by reaching out to more people. Besides, the leaders been asked to regularly pay visits to blocks and panchayats to strengthen the party’s base at grassroots level so that party’s core vote bank will remain intact. Most importantly, the ministers were advised not to be controversial.
Expressing his dissatisfaction over his district remaining unrepresented, ex-minister Raghunandan Das said he is happy for being made Chief Whip but would be more happy if received a ministerial berth.
It is learnt that those ministers who were dropped from the cabinet may get posted as district party presidents and party observers.
When asked, ex-minister Sudam Marndi said, “There is nothing wrong in it (reshuffle). All should get a chance in a rotation basis. In coming days, like a disciplined worker of the party, I will accept whatever task the Chief Minister will assign to me.”
“As of now, the party takes precedence over the government. In coming days, we will work to make the party more powerful,” said ex-minister Pratap Jena.
Senior journalist K Ravi said the Chief Minister meeting the excluded ex-ministers was nothing new. It is par for the course for the CM to meet the ex-ministers as it is necessary on his part to placate them to stop them from leaving the party.
As per sources, these leaders lost their ministerial positions for being the sources of criticism and for failing to give their hundred per cent in the recently-held panchayat poll among other reasons.
Law Minister Pratap Jena, who also held the portfolios of Panchayati Raj and Urban Development; Agriculture and Higher Education Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo; and Minister of State for Home Captain Dibya Shankar Mishra who got embroiled in a controversy last year following the murder of a woman schoolteacher in Kalahandi were among the big names who did not find space in the new ministerial council.
Notably, the BJD supremo had followed the same strategy following panchayat election of 2017. It is said that the party supremo’s decision to reshuffle the entire cabinet is part of his strategies for 2024 general and Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, the CM also had a meeting with the newly-appointed ministers on Sunday evening soon after their swearing-in ceremony. The newly-inducted ministers have been asked to tour more and reach out to maximum people.