(Clockwise from top left) Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Bijayshree Routray, Damodar Rout and Usha Devi
Bhubaneswar, May 20: Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik would begin his new innings by seeking the blessings of Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of Odisha, whom he had invoked umpteen times during his poll campaign.
Sources said Naveen, who spent the better part of today visiting Hinjili, his constituency, and finalising his council of ministers, would make an early morning trip to Puri tomorrow before taking oath of office at Raj Bhavan, where the ceremony would commence at 10am. Twenty-one ministers are expected to be sworn in along with him.
Sources said Badri Narayan Patra, who won with the highest margin from Ghasipura in Keonjhar district, was one of the first to receive a call from the chief minister’s residence for inclusion in the council of ministers. Patra was the higher education minister in the last government.
Former ministers — Bijayshree Routray, Bikram Kesari Arukh, Damodar Rout, Debi Prasad Mishra, Usha Devi, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Pradeep Maharathy, Ramesh Majhi, Lal Behari Himirika, Pushpendra Singhdeo and Arun Sahu — are almost certain to find a place in the new ministry. Naveen has also decided to reward former speaker Pradip Kumar Amat with a ministerial berth.
The new faces to be inducted are Ekamra MLA Ashok Panda, Brahmagiri winner Sanjay Dasburma, Pranab Prakash Das from Jajpur, Pradeep Panigrahy from Gopalpur, Attabira MLA Snehangini Chhuria, Loisingha winner Jogendra Behera, Kamakhya Nagar MLA Prafulla Mallick and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha turncoat Sudam Marandi.
Naveen’s council of ministers will have 11 cabinet ministers and 10 ministers of state. The cabinet ministers, official sources stated, are Damodar Rout, Bijayshree Routray, Debi Prasad Mishra, Bikram Keshari Arukh, Badri Narayan Patra, Usha Devi, Pradeep Maharathy, Lal Behari Himirika, Pushpendra Singh Deo, Pradeep Amat and Jogendra Behera. The rest are ministers of state.
The new council of ministers is, thus, going to be a mix of experience and youth. It has two women representatives. Among those staging a comeback to the ministry are Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Pradeep Maharathy and Pushpendra Singh Deo.
As many as 18 of the state’s 30 districts have found representation in the new council of ministers to be sworn in tomorrow. The biggest beneficiary expectedly has been Ganjam, Naveen’s home district, with three MLAs being inducted into the ministry. While there are two MLAs representing Puri, the other 16 districts have one each.
The districts to have found favour are Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Keonjhar, Rayagada, Kalahandi, Bargarh, Angul, Nabarangpur, Kendrapara, Nayagarh, Khurda, Balangir, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj and Boudh.
The biggest losers this time seems to have been former revenue minister Surya Narayan Patro, former speaker and law minister Maheshwar Mohanty, former industries minister Niranjan Pujari, former steel and mines minister Rajani Kant Singh and former commerce and transport minister Subrat Tarai.
Puri MLA Mohanty had been embroiled in a controversy after being shot at by his rivals in his constituency on the eve of elections. Yet to recover fully from his injuries, Mohanty won the seat following a sympathy wave in his favour.
Angul stalwart Rajani Kant Singh, too, had courted controversy when he was accused of violating the model code of conduct with his office fax being used to send the list of BJD candidates in the Angul district to the office of the district collector.