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Tribal leader Mohan Majhi to be Odisha's first BJP CM on Wednesday

This will be the first time a CM in the state will be from the BJP after it ousted the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in the recently held Assembly elections

Odisha CM Mohan Charan Majhi

Odisha CM Mohan Charan Majhi (Photo: Facebook/ @mohancharanmajhibjp)

Ramani Ranjan Mohapatra New Delhi

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Prominent tribal face and four-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Mohan Charan Majhi will take oath as the chief minister (CM) of Odisha in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. Majhi will have two deputies — six-time legislator K V Singh Deo and first-timer Pravati Parida.

This will be the first time a CM in the state will be from the BJP after it ousted the 24-year-old Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government led by Naveen Patnaik in the recently held Assembly elections.

Majhi, 52, son of a watchman, a Santhal, started his career as a teacher in Shishu Vidya Mandir before being elected a sarpanch in 1997. He was first elected to the Assembly from Keonjhar in 2000. Majhi has proved his mettle as a strident tribal voice and the BJP’s chief whip in the last Assembly.

Singh Deo, 67, who belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Patnagarh in Bolangir district, had served as a minister in the BJD-BJP coalition government that was in force in the state until 2009. His wife Sangeeta Singh Deo is the BJP MP from Bolangir.

Parida, 57, who was BJP’s women wing president, won the election from Nimapara constituency in Puri district. She is from the Khandayat caste, a dominant Other Backward Class (OBC) community of Odisha. She will be the first woman deputy chief minister of the state.

The three represent all regions of the state — Majhi is from northern Odisha, Singh Deo from western and Parida from coastal Odisha.

The BJP, which fought the Assembly elections on the issue of Odia pride and the "missing" keys of the Jagannath temple's Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove) amid rising anti-incumbency against the Patnaik government, won 78 seats and has received the support of two Independent legislators in the 147-member House. The BJD managed to win 51 seats, while the Congress got 14.

Majhi’s name was announced after a meeting of the BJP legislators that was overseen by Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Bhupender Yadav. “He (Majhi) is a young and dynamic party worker, who will take the state forward on the road to progress and prosperity,” Singh posted on X after announcing the CM name in Bhubaneswar.

During his rallies, Modi had said the BJP’s CM candidate would be the son of soil who can speak fluent Odia. On June 4, the PM ended his victory speech in the national capital with “Jai Jagannath” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” slogans.

“Owing to the blessings of Lord Jagannath, the BJP has achieved majority in Odisha and is going to form the government in the state. I would like to thank the 45-million Odias who decided to vote for a change and bring the BJP to power in Odisha. The BJP will definitely honour the trust that the people of Odisha have shown,” said Majhi, who will be the third tribal chief minister of Odisha after Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamanga of the Congress.

Odisha’s Scheduled Tribes consider Lord Jagannath as their god, said senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty. While Majhi is close to Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Parida could have been the pick by state BJP chief Manmohan Samal, said Mohanty.

Tribals constitute 23 per cent of the state’s population, and 33 seats in the Assembly are reserved for STs. In the last elections, the BJP won all the seats in Mayurbhanj, the home district of President Droupadi Murmu.

The first invite for Wednesday’s oath-taking ceremony was given to Lord Jagannath in Puri. A few of the BJP’s newly elected legislators delivered it to the 12th-century shrine. Another delegation of party legislators, led by Samal, went to Naveen Niwas — outgoing CM Naveen Patnaik's residence — and formally invited him to attend the swearing-in ceremony.

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First Published: Jun 11 2024 | 10:42 PM IST

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