Shared by Sri Sachin Kumar Agrawal
The New Indian Express, Sept 25, 2012
The impending reshuffle of the Union Cabinet has again sparked off speculation in political circles here about inclusion of one more member from the State which remains under-represented in the Central Ministry.
The State has only a Minister of State, Srikant Jena, in the Central Ministry with insignificant portfolios. Even though there is no indication from any reliable source that the representation from the State would be increased this time, aspirants have started lobbying.
Out of the five remaining Congress MPs from the State, at least four are seriously in the race. They are former chief minister Hemananda Biswal, former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das, Amarnath Pradhan and Pradip Majhi.
Sources said several senior leaders from the State, including OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik, Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh and others met several party leaders in Delhi recently and discussed political situation in the State and the expected reshuffle in the Union Ministry.
The opinion of a majority in the State Congress is that there should be another minister from the State. But that minister should be helpful in strengthening the Congress setup in the State, many Congress leaders here said.
The success of the September 6 ‘Naveen hatao rally’ and the Odisha bandh on September 10 has rejuvenated the Congress in the State. To keep up the momentum, the State leadership now wants to intensify its campaign against the Naveen Patnaik Government with an aim to dislodge it in 2014.
Hemananda and Bhakta can stake claim by virtue of their seniority and experience. Hemananda is one of the senior-most leaders of the Congress in the State apart from being the tribal face.
Bhakta represents Kalahandi from where maximum number of Congress MLAs were elected in the 2009 election.
A former president of the Odisha Pradesh Youth Congress (OPYC), Majhi is a young gun with a good following in the Southern Odisha.
If Majhi makes the cut, it will strengthen the base of the Congress further in those areas.
There is a also demand for inclusion in the ministry an MP from Western Odisha. Sources said Pradhan may make it to the ministry in case someone from Western Odisha is taken in.