**Bhubaneswar:** As many as nine Odisha ministers on Saturday tendered their resignations paving the way for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to reshuffle the cabinet. These leaders are supposed to devote themselves to strengthening the party organisation as the BJP is set to give a tough fight to the ruling party, which has been in power for 17 years.
Sanjay Dasburma, Pranab Prakash Das, Arun Sahoo, Pradeep Panigrahi, Pushpendra Singhdeo, Lal Bihari Himirika, Sudam Marndi, Jogendra Behera and Debi Prasad Mishra have put in their papers.
Later in the day, Finance Minister Pradip Amat also resigned from his post. He is tipped to become the Speaker in place of Niranjan Pujari, who had resigned from his post on Friday and is likely to be accommodated in the new council of ministers.
After the resignation, some ministers reasserted their faith in the party leadership while some others claimed that they have voluntarily resigned from their post in order to focus on the organisational responsibilities.
Speaking to the media persons, former Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Das Burma said, “Our party is gearing up for the upcoming general and assembly elections. Party supremo has formed a new team to spearhead the mission and I’m happy that he is counting on me.”
Another young turk and former Energy Minister Pranab Parkas Das also pledged his obligation for the party supremo.
He said, “The Government as well as the party belongs to him (Naveen Patnaik). But I believe that the party is more important as it gets us elected to the assembly at the first place. We will keep working for the organisation and will retain power with surprising numbers in 2019.”
“My leader asked me to resign and I did what he wanted. I have worked quite quite hard as a minister and will keep working in the organisation. Now I’ll have more time for my constituents,” said former MSME Minister Jogendra Behera.
Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said, “I have been on various posts in my career and have done my best every time. If the party leadership has assigned me something, I will do it.”
Former Minister of Panchayati Raj, Arun Sahu also said that he will work ‘24/7 for the organisation’ from now on.
However, former Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Sudam Marandi seemed uneasy after the resignation.
Reluctantly speaking to the reporters, he said, “I have resigned. There is no reason behind this. The CM is our supreme leader. Everyone serves at the pleasure of the CM.”
Meanwhile, CM Patnaik expressed hope that the ministerial reshuffle will attribute towards the growth and development of people of Odisha besides strengthening the party.
“I am grateful to a number of ministers who have resigned voluntarily to work for the party. All of us in the party are very grateful to them,” he said.
He said the revamp would help the ruling Biju Janata Dal serve the people better.