Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Friday dropped higher education minister Rohit Pujari from the council of ministers and shifted department secretary Bishnupada Sethi to an inconsequential post, sources in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said on Friday.
Officials said that Patnaik assigned Pujari's department to food and supplies minister Atanu S Nayak.
Hours after dropping Pujari, the government also transferred Bishnupoada Sethi, IAS, from the post of secretary for higher education and posted him as an Officer of Special Duty (OSD) in the General Administration department, considered a not so important job.
Sethi, was also removed from his additional charge as chairman of the Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC). He was replaced by another IAS officer Aravind Aagrwal.
The action against the minister and the department secretary, sources, said was mainly due to non-performance of the higher education department. Patnaik, who reviewed the performance of all the departments from May 22 to June 2, found higher education department to be the worst performer.
Pujari, a two-time MLA, said, "I have given my best for the improvement of the higher education department. I do not know, the government might be expecting more. I will do whatever work is assigned to me by the party."
The MLA, 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.
A lawmaker from Rairakhol, Pujari was inducted in June last year.
Earlier in May this year during a minor reshuffle, 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.
-With PTI Input