Bhubaneswar: The much awaited and most discussed about reshuffle of the Narendra Modi led NDA government is over and the outcome, while surprised some people, has also disappointed many others. For Odisha, the new ministry and the new portfolios have much ramifications. First, Odisha has got one more representation in the ministry in terms of number of ministers. Secondly, giving the Railways portfolio to Aswini Vaishnav and taking away of Petroleum from Dharmendra Pradhan are two distinct changes that that will be closed watched both at the state and national level. It was widely anticipated that the dark horse Bisweswar Tudu will get the Tribal affairs ministry. The changes are much calculated and are with many intentions both in terms of managing the government and keeping the party affairs in line. What is more interesting to see in the context of Odisha is that the Bharatiya Janata Party has put its confidence again on Rajya Sabha members from the state. Western Odisha, which contributed the most for the party’s rise in Odisha has been ignored much to the contrary of expectations.
The change in leadership at the Petroleum Ministry can be attributed to the continuous negativity spreading because of the historic increase in the prices of petroleum products. Of late, especially since the price of petrol crossed one hundred mark, the government has been facing an increased criticism. While Dharmendra has defended the price rise many a times, it may not help the government in its endeavor to clean up its pandemic hit image. The change of guard at the petroleum ministry was a surprise move. Now everybody in Odisha asking why Dharmendra has been shifted? There are also discussions going on in political circles about the ramifications of this change. The developments in the petroleum sector and the ministry in the coming days could answer many of the questions being raised today. While it can be said that the Education Ministry is not without importance, it may not give the mileage that the Petroleum Ministry gave to Dharmendra. Now that he has been given the Education portfolio, time will tell if Dharmendra can do the same to the sector as he did to the Petroleum sector.
On the other hand, Aswini Vaishnav, the little spoken about member of the Rajya Sabha from Odisha, has got the biggest surprise of the ministry reshuffle. Vaishnav’s bureaucratic past and distinguished educational background may have helped him bag the most important portfolio. During these tough times for the government, the Railways Ministry needs some tough decisions too. As vaishnav has also been given the Ministries of Communications, and Electronics and Information Technology, his new role could not be undermined. His biggest test in the near future will be shorting out the new Law related to controlling the social media which seemed to be the priority for his predecessor. Being a young and energetic member of the Modi government, experts opine that Vaishnav can handle the new assignment very well and can be an asset for the government. But an important aspect of giving two important portfolios to Vaishnav is the changing priorities for the State BJP unit. Is Aswini being projected for a bigger role in the State.
Bisweswar Tudu, the dark horse from Odisha, got the Tribal affairs ministry. Being a tribal himself, Tudu has been given the portfolio which Jual Oram once held. This new appointment seems to be a well calculated move by the BJP in Odisha as it foresees the 2024 prospects. The party may be looking for strengthening its roots in the Northern Odisha.
What surprised most to the analysts as well as common people in Odisha is not giving any positions to Aparajita Sarangi. The so called proactive Member of Parliament from Bhubaneswar was in discussions and thought to get a position in the new ministry. It seems that the central high command of the BJP is not satisfied with her report card. Another name which was making rounds in the media in the last few days was that of Former Kendrapada MP Baijayant Panda. He was also touted as a contender for an important portfolio. Bailayant has to wait for his turn to win a seat to get into the confidence of the BJP central leadership.
The most intriguing part of the reshuffle for Odisha is not giving any representation to Western Odisha. BJP’s rise in the state is mainly attributed to its popularity in the Western Odisha districts. Political analysts from Western Odisha have already started questioning the move by saying that the BJP leadership has betrayed the faith reposed by the voters. People, who were eagerly watching the ministry expansion, are much disappointed with this. Nitesh Gangdo, Basanta Panda, Jual Oram, Sangeeta Singdeo and Suresh Pujari have been elected from the western Odisha. But they have not been given any suitable representation by the Modi Government. This can lead to discontentment among the party leaders and workers from the area.