Bhubaneswar: With Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal returning to the state capital Saturday after a weeklong vacation, speculation is rife about a possible reshuffle of the Naveen Patnaik government in the state.
While Lal is back in the Raj Bhavan, sources in the ruling BJD said some MLAs are told not to leave the capital city though they were not given any assurance by the party president.
The ruling BJD MLAs who have performed extremely well in the recently concluded panchayat and urban elections, are likely to be rewarded with ministerial berth while some ministers may lose their position for not being able to achieve the target in the twin polls held in February and March.
A section of leaders in the coastal region have been optimistic and expect a reward from party president Naveen Patnaik.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has asked all ministers to submit performance reports of their departments which has added to the speculation of a possible ministry reshuffle. Patnaik is likely to judge the performance of the ministers from their actions towards fulfilling the promises made by the ruling BJD in its election manifesto.
The ministers who could not achieve target in the Panchayat and Urban polls and also failed to meet promises in the BJD manifesto may be shown doors, an insider said. Patnaik himself has not opened his mouth on the possible ministry reshuffle.
A section of BJD MLAs argue that the ministry reshuffle is imminent as Patnaik has not gone for any changes in the council of ministers for last three years even as some ministers have earned a bad name for the party as well as the government. Patnaik would complete three years in office of his fifth term on May 29, 2022.
The BJD leaders opposed to the ministry reshuffle also argue that Patnaik would not go for any changes till completion of the Rajya Sabha elections and Presidential elections.
As opposition BJP has expedited its agitations and appeared to have taken a decision to embarrass the BJD government, Patnaik may drop some ministers, party insiders said.
Patnaik had undertaken a similar exercise after 2017 panchayat polls. He sought resignation of 10 out of 20 ministers in his government. Five of the ministers who were excluded from the council of ministers were given responsibilities of the BJD’s district units. This led to a major success of the BJD in the 2019 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The BJD won 114 of 147 assembly seats.
However, the regional party suffered the brunt of the saffron wave in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, which were held simultaneously, with its tally coming down to 12 from 20 it won in 2014. Of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, BJP managed to bag eight seats, while Congress also won one seat.