Pradeep Pattanayak

In a dramatic turn of events, Pratap Jena, Dibya Shankar Mishra and Arun Sahoo, who were till yesterday among the most reliable and powerful ministers, have been divested from their powers. 

The question why did Odisha Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik keep them away from the newly-formed cabinet has now become a matter of discussion in power corridors and political circles. 

It has been discussed that they have to pay dearly for their names being dragged in several criminal cases. 

Ex-Law Minister Pratap Jena’s alleged involvement in Mahanga Double Murder case had put the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the dock. At that time, there was a lot of hue and cry for the police having not include his name from the purview of investigation despite the fact that his name was in the FIR. 

The alleged involvement of Dibyashankar Mishra, who was then the Minister of State for Home, in Mamata Meher murder case had proved to be the most difficult situation for the BJD to handle it. This incident had proved to be a shot in the arm for the Opposition party as they had the government in the crosshairs continued to corner the government for a long time. 

Similarly, it is being discussed that Arun Sahoo has paid the price of his name being dragged in Pari murder case.  Bikram Keshari Arukha’s name was also entangled in the ACF Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra death case.

However, BJD leader Subash Singh termed the assumptions as baseless.  “The Chief Minister has formed a clean cabinet for the service of Odisha people,” he said. 

Ex-ministers like Sudam Marndi, Padmanabha Behera, Raghunandan Das, Padmini Dian, Premananda Nayak, Jyotiprakash Panigrahi and Sushant Singh have also been kept outside of the Cabinet. It is being discussed that the axe has fallen on them for their poor performance in the last three years. 

“In past, I discharged whatever responsibilities the Chief Minister gave to me sincerely. But, I honour his decision,” said Jyotiprakash Panigrahi. 

In his reaction, senior journalist Rabi Das said, “It is not a big thing because it is still the same Naveen Patnaik’s cabinet. But when it comes to a just balance from region point of view, it seems to me, it has left a lot to be desired.”