Bhubaneswar: Five ministers were on Thursday dropped from the Naveen Patnaik ministry which saw nine new faces in the much-awaited ministerial expansion.

Governor M C Bhandare administered the oath of office and secrecy to the nine new ministers, including three of Cabinet rank, at the swearing in ceremony at Raj Bhavan.

Those who took oath as Cabinet Ministers are: Dharmashala legislator Kalpataru Das, who joined the ministry for the first time, and former ministers Damodar Rout and Bijayashree Routray.

The six new Ministers of State were Pratap Keshari Deo, Subrat Tarai, Rajanikant Singh, Sarojini Hembram, Arun Kumar Sahu and Rabi Narayan Nanda.

Shortly before inducting the new ministers, the Chief Minister dropped five ministers, including state Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai, from his Cabinet.

As per the Chief Minister's instruction, the five ministers tendered their resignation which were forwarded to the Governor for acceptance, sources in the chief minister's office (CMO) said.

Besides Ghadai, Tourism and Culture Minister Prafulla Samal, Energy Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Labour Minister Pushpendra Singhdeo and School and Mass Education Minister Pratap Jena have also resigned.

In another exercise to facilitate reshuffle, government chief whip Rabinarayan Pani and deputy chief whip Arun Sahu, who was made a minister of state, also put in their papers, the sources said.

Prabhat Tripathy and Sanjay Dasburma are expected to be made chief whip and deputy chief whip respectively, the sources said.

The decision to effect the ministerial expansion was believed to have been taken by the chief minister late Thursday night after he held consultations with senior leaders of the ruling BJD.

There were five vacancies in the ministry. While A U Singh Deo and Pradip Maharathy had resigned earlier this year over liquor tragedy and Pipili rape and murder case respectively, three ministers - Anjali Behera, Sarada P Nayak and Sanjeev Sahoo were sacked in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt against the government on May 29.

Ever since the revolt, political circles were agog with speculation about a major reshuffle to fill the vacancies and drop loyalists of BJD MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, who had allegedly led the revolt, sources said.

While Patnaik had been carefully examining the whole issue since June, ruling BJD MLAs were lobbying hard in their bid to secure a berth in the ministry.


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