Away from the media limelight, Srikant Jena finally joined office as the minister of state (independent charge) for statistics and programme Implementation — ten days after the cabinet reshuffle. With Jena’s arrival, all new UPA ministers have now formally joined their respective offices.
Jena spent almost an hour at Sardar Patel Bhawan in New Delhi on Thursday to hold meetings and sign a few ‘urgent’ files. He also met director general, Central Statistics Office and top National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) officials at his residence earlier in the day.
Jena, however, refused to meet HT on his first day at the new ministry.
Top sources in the Congress said the Congressman is not really averse to handling the statistics and programme implementation. He is disappointed at being retained as the minister of state (MoS) of chemicals and fertilisers under MK Alagiri.
“After the reshuffle, Jena has conveyed to the Congress brass about the constraints he faced working with Alagiri. Even as Alagiri spent most of his time in Tamil Nadu, Jena was not given any power to take decisions,” said a Congress source.
Party sources said that Jena was expecting a promotion after his clean handling of the ministry affairs in the absence of Alagiri.
Among other issues, Jena got a briefing on his forthcoming Tezpur visit in Assam. Ministry sources said he also asked for status of various programmes in North-East India.
His officials also formally issued print-orders for letter-heads bearing the new minister’s name.
Even before Jena could settle down properly in the new ministry, plans for his first foreign tour as statistics minister are underway. Jena is likely to fly to Dublin to confer the Prasanta Mahalanobis award next month.