Much awaited Cabinet reshuffle today

Bhubaneswar:  CM Naveen Patnaik led BJD government will reshuffle its cabinet on Tuesday for the first time after returning to power for consecutive third term in 2009.

The reshuffling process took off on Monday with the resignation of three minister – Damodar Rout, minister for agriculture, fisheries & animal resources; Pravin Chandra Bhanjadeo sports and youth affairs minister; Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, who is in charge of SC and ST development department.

New faces like Pipli MLA Pradip Maharathi, Puri MLA Maheswar Mohanty, Sonepur MLA Niranjan Pujari, Deputy Speaker Lal Bihari Himrika and Chikiti MLA Usha Devi are likely to find places in the cabinet.

According to sources, Deputy Speaker Lal Bihari Himrika has tendered his resignation to pave way for his induction into the ministry.

The new ministers would be administered the oath of office and secrecy at 4 pm on Tuesday. 

Earlier on Monday, Damodar Rout had confirmed his resignation and said that the CM had asked him over the phone to put down his papers.

Rout who was embroiled in several controversies had held many vital portfolios during Biju Patnaik and Naveen Patnaik’s regime.

Rout drew flak for allegedly making casteist remarks during a public meeting in Jagatsinghpur district in August 2010.

Following a complaint lodged against Rout, a case was registered against him under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.

The high-profile leader had to secure bail from a local court as per High Court directive. But, political rivals and dalit oragnisations were after Rout for his removal from the ministry.