As many as 35 ministers were either removed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik or had to resign during the last 12 years of his rule while only four were able to make a comeback.
The last reshuffle on August 2, where five ministers were removed and three former ministers made a comeback, has drawn flak from the Opposition political parties. Removal of ministers is like a routine work for Naveen and he has done it at regular intervals during his three terms in office, said an analyst. While earlier ministers were sacked for coming under shadow of corruption, in the latest reshuffle, link with dissident Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra was the determining factor behind taking in the ministers or sacking them.
But once fallen from Naveen’s grace, it has been very difficult for former ministers to gain his favour. Only four of the 35 ministers sacked were able to make a comeback. Health and Family Welfare Minister Damodar Rout has made a record of sorts in this regard. He was sacked twice in the past, but he made a comeback each time.
After Pyari fell out with Naveen, Rout was again sworn in as a minister for the third time. Others, who had the good fortune to be sworn in again as ministers, were Debi Prasad Mishra (Agriculture Minister), Bijayshree Routray (Forest and Environment Minister) and Rabinarayan Nanda (Minister of State for School and Mass Education).
Naveen dropped five ministers ahead of the ministry expansion on August 2. Prafulla Chandra Ghadei, Naveen’s colleague for a long time and Finance minister for eight years, was also shown the door for allegedly nurturing chief ministerial ambition and extending tacit support to the May 29 abortive coup attempt.
Other ministers removed were Prafulla Samal, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Pratap Jena and Pushpendra Singhdeo. All these former ministers were perceived close to Pyari.
Naveen sacked six ministers during his first stint as Chief Minister from 2000 to 2004 and the then Agriculture minister Ramakrushna Patnaik had resigned after he was shifted from the Finance Department. A total of seven ministers had to quit the ministry during Naveen’s first stint.
The six, who were dropped from the ministry, were Kamala Das, Prashant Nanda, Nalinikanta Mohanty, Amar Prasad Satpathy, Debi Prasad Mishra and AP Singh.
Similarly, during his second innings as the Chief Minister from 2004 to 2009, 14 ministers were removed on different grounds. Similarly, 14 ministers have been removed in his current term since 2009. They are Pramila Mallick, Pravin Bhanja Deo, Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, Damodar Rout, Pradeep Maharathy, Anjali Behera, Sanjib Sahoo, Sarada Prasad Nayak, Prafulla Chandra Ghadei, Prafulla Samal, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Pushpendra Singhdeo, Pratap Jena and AU Singhdeo.