Bhubaneswar: Former Union Minister Srikant Jena Friday alleged that the formation of the council of ministers by Naveen Patnaik government is in complete violation of the provision 164 of the Constitution.
Addressing newsmen here, Jena said the Governor should convene a fresh oath-taking ceremony as the government had violated the constitution by not appointing a cabinet minister in charge of ST/SC Welfare department.
He said as per the provision 164 of the constitution, there shall be a minister in charge of Tribal Welfare in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha who shall be in charge for tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of welfare of Scheduled Castes and other Backward Classes or any other work.
Jena said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should tender an apology to the ST and SC community in the state as he had not appointed a cabinet minister in charge of ST/SC Welfare which is unconstitutional.
He said the Chief Minister has one option with him to allot the ST/SC welfare department to a cabinet minister instead of allotting the portfolio to a minister of state as he has done otherwise the Governor should convene a fresh swearing-in ceremony to comply with the provision 164 of the Constitution.
The former Union Minister said by not allotting the ST/SC welfare department to a cabinet minister, the Chief Minister had discriminated against the vast majority of the people of the state.
Patnaik has allotted the ST and SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare portfolio to Minister of state (Independent) Jagannath Saraka, a newcomer and a new face in the council of ministers.
Jena said a minister of state (Independent) will not attend the cabinet meeting unless he or she is invited and also cannot take part in any policy decision of the government. He also pointed out a serious mistake in the allotment of minister of state for Home portfolio to a cabinet minister and questioned how could the government take such an irresponsible step in allotting a minister of state status to a cabinet minister? While distributing the portfolios among the new council of ministers May 29, the Chief Minister had allotted minister of state for Home to Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallik.