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Odisha: CM Naveen Patnaik Cabinet Has Three Vacancies Now

After the death of Health Minister Naba Kishore Das and the resignation of two more ministers, the cabinet has 3 empty seats now. The cabinet may also go through a mini-shuffle according to reports.

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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
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With three vacancies in the Naveen Patnaik Cabinet in Odisha following the resignation of two ministers of state, ruling Biju Janata Dal MLAs have started lobbying to become a minister ahead of the general elections next year.

The Odisha Council of Ministers can have 22 ministers including the chief minister but now has 19 ministers. While one post was lying vacant after the assassination of Health minister Naba Kishore Das in January this year, two ministers of state - Samir Dash (School and Mass Education) and Srikant Sahu (Labour) resigned from their posts on Friday.

Patnaik may fill up the three vacancies soon, a senior party leader said, adding that the chief minister may also go for a mini-reshuffle of his cabinet to fill up the vacancies. 

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A section of ministers are also in the grip of fear that the chief minister may ask them to resign. "Many ministers have switched off their mobile phones fearing a possible call from Naveen Niwas, the chief minister's residence," the party leader said.

This apart, some senior and experienced leaders, who want to vacate their seats for their sons in the coming elections, are also lobbying to become the Speaker of the Odisha Assembly as B K Arukha resigned from the post on Friday.

The probable names for Speaker’s posts making the rounds are: Prafulla Samal, Debi Prasad Mishra, Amar Prasad Satpathy and Badri Narayan Patra.

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Similarly, for the ministerial berth some names are also making the rounds. While a section of leaders believe that Patnaik may induct six-time MLA BK Arukha who resigned as Speaker on Friday in the Cabinet, other probable names are - Sushant Singh and Sarada Nayak from western region and Umakanta Samantray from Puri district.

Some party leaders did not rule out the possibility of Dipali Das, who won the Jharsuguda by-poll on Saturday, becoming a minister as her late father Naba Kishore Das was the Health minister when he was assassinated.

While the list of aspirants in the BJD was long, party sources said that no one has direct access to the chief minister. 

The three vacancies are created from different regions like Western Odisha (Naba Kishore Das-Jharsuguda), Southern Odisha (Srikant Sahu- Ganjam district) and Coastal Odisha (SR Dash-Puri district).

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given charge of the two departments School and Mass Education and Labour, to Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramila Mallik. She was given the additional charge of the two departments, official sources said.

However, no BJD leaders could say about the date of possible reshuffle in the Naveen Patnaik ministry as Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal is on a visit to his home state Haryana and is scheduled to return to Bhubaneswar on May 22.

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