Apparently upset over not being elevated to Cabinet rank, Srikant Jena on Wednesday kept everyone guessing as to whether he would assume charge as Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation with Independent charge.
Mr. Jena remained at his home but incommunicado, with his staff saying he was scheduled to go to Odisha either on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning in connection with the rally of Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi in the state.
Officials in the Statistics and Programme Implementation ministry said no function regarding assumption of office by the new minister was scheduled for Wednesday.
Hoping for elevation to Cabinet rank, Mr. Jena had on Tuesday suggested that coalition compulsion had blocked his promotion.
However, he made it clear that he will not quit the Council of Ministers and that he would talk to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, highlighting his seniority in politics and “views of people of Odisha” on lack of representation in the Cabinet.
Mr. Jena, who was a Cabinet Minister in United Front government in 1996, feels a Cabinet berth would suit his profile and stature as he has been four-time MP.