Naveen Patnaik to expand ministry today

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Naveen Patnaik
Bhubaneswar, Aug 2: Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is set to expand his ministry on Thursday. Patnaik informed the mediapersons after weeks of suspense over the exact timing of the shuffle. Raj Bhavan sources said the chief minister's office had asked them to arrange for the swearing-in ceremony in the afternoon. However, the list of the new ministers who would take oath was still to be received.

Sources said Patnaik was likely to keep out five ministers, including Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak (energy), Prafulla Ghadai (finance), Pratap Jena (school and mass education), Prafulla Samal (culture) and Pushpendra Singhdeo (labour and employment) while nine new ministers were set to be inducted, including Kalpataru Das, Bijayshree Routray, Damodar Rout and Sarojini Hembram. Of them, Routray and Rout are former ministers.

It is also learnt that Pravat Tripathy and Sanjay Dasburma would be inducted as the government chief whip and government deputy whip, respectively.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) sources said the expansion was a part of the Chief Minister's efforts to clip wings of the 'loyalists' of Pyarimohan Mohapatra, the Rajya Sabha MP who had staged an open revolt against Patnaik in May end. Mohapatra had threatened last week that Patnaik might have to go if his 'loyalists' were removed from the ministry. Some of those who would be roped in as ministers had played a key role in aborting Mohapatra's alleged bid to topple Patnaik, who was then on a trip to London.

Patnaik, after his return, had sacked Sanjib Sahu, Sarada Nayak and Anjali Behera from his ministry. This took the total number of vacancies to five after Pradeep Maharathy and AU Singhdeo had quit the ministry earlier this year. Patnaik himself is the CM of Orissa since March 2000.

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