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Naveen drops four ministers, inducts six new into cabinet

Written by: Staff
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Bhubaneswar, May 16: Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today sprung a surprise when he dropped four Biju Janata Dal (BJD)ministers and announced induction of six new ministers into his Cabinet, a day after he completed two years in his office during his second term.

At a hurriedly called press conference at the state secretariat, Mr Patnaik announced that Panchayat Raj and Culture Minister Damodar Rout, Health and Family Welfare Minister Bijayashree Routary, Minister of state for School and Mass Education Nagendra Pradhan and Minister of state Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Department Balabhadra Majhi were dropped from the Cabinet.

He announced the induction of six new ministers, all from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and said the new ministers would be sworn-in tomorrow at 1030 hours.

The new ministers to be inducted into the Cabinet were Mr Bishnu Das, Mr Raghunath Mohanty and Mr Chaitanya Prasad Majhi as new Cabinet Ministers while Mr Debi Prasad Mishra, Mr Duryadhan Majhi and Mr Sanjeeb Kumar Sahu would be inducted into the council of Minister as Minister of states.

Mr Patnaik described the dropping of four ministers, two cabinet and as many ministers of state from the cabinet as a 'routine' matter, stating that such reshuffle took place in all states and at the Centre. He parried a question from the newsmen as to whether the ministers were dropped on ''corruption charges''. The Chief Minister said he had just completed two years in his office and wanted some new faces to be inducted into the Cabinet.

The Chief Minister, however, did not make any change in the composition of his alliance partner BJP. He said for any reshuffle in the BJP ministers, he has to consult the BJP leadership.

The reshuffle in the two-year-old BJD-BJP government was imminent with the resignation of three ministers, two from the BJD and one from the BJP during the last two months.

While Minister of state for water Resources and Science and Technology Minister Rabi Narayan Nanda resigned from the Ministry in March in the wake of allegation that he bribed the Opposition, not to expose his links with the liquor mafias, State Excise Minister Kalandi Behera tendered his resignation last month as a series of liquor tragedies in Ganjam district claimed more than 40 lives.

Minister of state for Labour and Employment Pradipta Naik tendered his resignation this month for having filed a false affidavit during the nomination papers in the 2004 Assembly elections.

The 22-member ministry, which was reduced to 19 following the resignation of three ministers, would be now expanded to 21 with the induction of six ministers tomorrow.

UNI

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