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Tribal Leader Mohan Majhi Picked as the Odisha CM

Tribal Leader Mohan Majhi Picked as the Odisha CM

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 11: Four time member of the state Assembly representing ST reserved Keonjhar constituency, the tribal leader Mohan Charan Majhi was on Tuesday elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party in Odisha to be sworn-in as the first BJP chief minister of the state on Wednesday.

The 53-year old Mr Majhi will also have two deputy chief ministers, the six-time MLA KV Singhdeo and the first time elect Pravati Parida.

The legislature party meeting to elect a leader was held in Bhubaneswar in the presence of two union ministers Rajnath Singh and Bhupendra Yadav who were the party’s central high command observers for the meeting. Mr Majhi’s name was proposed for the leadership post after the two central observers sought the opinions of the senior leaders and elected MLAs and MPs from the state. The legislature party meeting was convened a week after the elections results were announced on June 4 with that sealed the fate of the 24-year old Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government in the state with the BJP securing 78 seats in the 147-mrmber state Assembly. The chief minister Mr Biju Patnaik’s party could muster only 51 seats and the Congress 14.

Mr Majhi’s name as the leader was announced by Mr Singh. Majhi won the Keonjhar assembly seat in the just concluded Odisha assembly elections, defeating Biju Janata Dal’s Mina Majhi by 11,577 votes. Opting for a relatively unknown face after Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram were sworn in as central ministers, who initially were considered to be among the front-runners to be picked as the first BJP chief minister in the eastern state, the BJP’s search ended with Mr Majhi who is known for his organisational skills and a strong tribal voice in the state.

The saffron party’s first leader for the state’s top job, he will take oath at the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday which will be attended among others by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Majhi will lead Odisha after the 24-year rule of the BJD’s Naveen Patnaik. A number of names were in the running for the CM’s post after Sambalpur MP Dharmendra Pradhan became a minister in the third Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet. But, as usual, the BJP leadership threw a surprise at the last minute.

Several party leaders had anticipated the same because the party also made a similar announcement in previous instances in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. “Everything is possible in Odisha as the BJP is a worker-driven party,” said a senior party leader.

Party sources said Majhi will first visit the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri before taking oath on Wednesday. Modi is expected to arrive in Bhubaneswar at 2.30 pm on Wednesday and proceed to Raj Bhavan from the airport, they said.

Tight security arrangements have been made in the proposed venue for the swearing-in ceremony. Several dignitaries, including union ministers and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, are expected to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the new Odisha CM and other ministers.

Mr Majhi was first elected to the Odisha assembly from the Keonjhar seat in 2000 and continue to represent the constituency. Before his assembly debut, he served as a Sarapancha from 1997 till 2000. He was also a member of Standing Committee of S.C. & S.T. under ORV Act. Majhi was also the government Deputy Chief Whip from 2005 till 2009 when the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ran a coalition government with the BJP.



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