Special Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR: Even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said he had not yet decided to carry out a reshuffle of his Ministry, legislators in both Biju Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party have started lobbying for a ministerial berth in the coalition Government.

Although changes were likely in the State Council of Ministers since BJP leader Pradipta Kumar Nayak resigned as Minister last year, Mr. Patnaik had been delaying the filling of the vacant Minister post so far.

The chances of a major reshuffle or at least induction of two leaders as Ministers, however, has become bright in the wake of the resignation of Bishnu Charan Das as School and Mass Education Minister on Friday.

Mr. Das resigned following a controversy over alleged discrepancies in the matriculation mark-sheet of his son.

Despite the Chief Minister’s statement before presspersons, sources in the BJD said several leaders in the party had started lobbying for their induction in the Council of Ministers. Similar was the situation in the BJP camp.

Very much on cards

A reshuffle in the Ministry was very much on the cards, but the process in this regard would begin only after Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy, who conducted an inquiry into the matter pertaining to the mark-sheet controversy, submitted his report to the government, BJD sources said.

Mr. Tripathy is likely to submit his report to the Government on Monday.

After paying three visits to the office of Board of Secondary Education in Cuttack to conduct the probe, Mr. Tripathy met the Chief Minister at the State Secretariat on Saturday to discuss the issue.

The number of vacancies in the State Council of Minister has gone up to two after the resignation of Mr. Das.

The Ministry presently has a total of 20 members, including the Chief Ministry. While 13 members, including the Chief Minister, were from the BJD, the remaining seven were from the BJP.

The strength of the Council of Ministers was restricted to 22 as per the norms fixed by Sarkaria Commission when the BJD-BJP alliance assumed power for the second term in May 2004.

The ratio was fixed as 14 for the BJD and eight for the BJP.

The BJD sources, however, said it was not certain whether Mr. Patnaik would fill the two vacancies or carry out a full-scale reshuffle.