Backward districts have no representation in Naveen’s ministry: Narsingha Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Opposition leader and Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra alleged that the protocol was not duly followed during the swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected ministers in Naveen Patnaik’s cabinet held at Raj Bhavan here on Sunday.

Besides, Mishra also lashed out at the Odisha government for neglecting backward districts of the state as no leaders were from as many as 13 districts were not included in the new team of Patnaik.

Districts including Koraput, Rayagada,Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Bolangir, Jharsuguda, Boudh, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh, Nuapada have no representation in the council of ministers in the reshuffle carried out today, Mishra alleged.

“It is unfortunate that several districts have no representation and as lot of leaders were dropped from ministry, they were not present in the oath taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan,” said Mishra.

Claiming that the “intra-party conflict” in the ruling BJD was apparent at today’s swearing-in of the council of ministers, Mishra said none of the ministers who resigned yesterday at the advice of the chief minster were present at it this morning.

While Patnaik had claimed that the ministers who resigned did so voluntarily, some of them later said that they had put in their papers at the direction of the chief minister, he said.

Describing the reshuffle as a “reflection of BJD’s poor performance” in the panchayat polls in the state, BJP Odisha unit’s chief spokesman Sajjan Sharma said the backward districts like Kalahandi, Balangir and Mayurbhanj did not get representation in the revamped council of ministers.

Sharma sought to know whether the chief minister had decided to “punish” the people of the backward districts by denying them representation in the ministry as the ruling BJD had faced debacle in the rural bodies elections in them.

Though the chief minister dropped two tribal ministers from the ministry, not a single tribal leader was included in the council of ministers in the reshuffle, he said adding none from Jajpur, Nayagarh and Kendrapara districts was inducted into the ministry.

The entire southern region of the state comprising Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Gajapati districts also remained unrepresented in the ministry though Patnaik’s home district of Ganjam has four ministers.

Bikram Keshari Arukha, S N Patro and Usha Devi hailed from Ganjam district besides Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself. Ganjam, though located on the coast, is considered the entry point to the southern region of the state.

Jajpur and Kendrapara districts, known as BJD’s fort, also remained unrepresented in the ministry after Pranab Prakash Das (Jajpur) resigned yesterday.