Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Friday dropped higher education minister Rohit Pujari from the council of ministers, sources in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said.
Sources added that Patnaik recommended Governor Ganeshi Lal to exclude Pujari’s name from the ministry and assigned the key department to food and supplies minister Atanu S Nayak.
Though the chief minister had dropped many ministers over the last 23 years of his tenure, Pujari was the first to be excluded from the ministry during his fifth term.
Pujari, a two-time MLA, was not immediately available for comment.
A lawmaker from Rairakhol, Pujari was inducted in June last year.
Sources said during a review of various departments between May 22 and June 2, Patnaik found that the higher education department’s performance was the worst.
During a minor reshuffle in May, the chief minister had asked school and mass education minister Samir Ranjan Dash and labour minister Srikant Sahoo to resign. Two new ministers, Sudam Marndi and Sarada Prasad Nayak, were inducted in place of Dash and Sahoo.
B K Arukha, who had resigned from the post of Speaker, was also inducted in the Cabinet and given finance portfolio.
With Pujari being dropped, the ministry’s strength now stands at 21 including the chief minister.
Pujari, a prominent leader from the state’s western region, was recently in the news after he said politicians above 60 years should remain away from politics.