Odisha gets tribal CM in Mohan Majhi

Bhubaneshwar: BJP’s tribal leader and four-time MLA Mohan Charan Majhi will be the new chief minister of Odisha, where the saffron party came to power for the first time with a clear mandate in assembly elections, ending the 24-year stint of BJD.

Announcing the name of Majhi, a surprise pick, Union minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said six-time legislator Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo and Pravati Parida, a debutant MLA, have been made deputy chief ministers.

The decisions were taken at the BJP legislature party meeting, which unanimously chose 52-year-old Majhi as its leader. Singh and Union minister Bhupender Yadav attended the meeting as central observers.

Majhi will succeed Naveen Patnaik, the BJD supremo.

“Delighted to announce that Shri Mohan Charan Majhi has been elected unanimously as the leader of Odisha BJP Legislature Party. He is a young and dynamic party karyakarta who will take the state forward on road to progress and prosperity as the new Chief Minister of Odisha. Many congratulations to him,” Singh said on X.

The chief whip of the BJP in the previous assembly, he was elected to the assembly in recently held elections for the fourth time. He defeated Mina Majhi of the BJD from the Keonjhar assembly constituency.

According to sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leaders are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Majhi government on Wednesday at Janata Maidan.

The BJP won 78 seats in the 147-member Odisha Assembly, while the BJD bagged 51.

Majhi is the third tribal chief minister of Odisha after Congress’s Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamang.

The tribal leader, who kicked off his political career as a village sarpanch nearly three decades ago, hailed from Raikala village in the tribal-dominated and mineral-rich Keonjhar district. The son of a watchman, he was elected to the assembly for the first time in 2000.

The BJP’s selection of the chief minister and deputy CMs indicated the party’s strategy to maintain a regional balance. Majhi comes from Keonjhar in northern Odisha, while Deo and Parida belong to the western and coastal regions of the state respectively.

Deo is the titular head of the erstwhile royal family of Patnagarh (now Bolangir), while Pravati Parida is a lawyer. She will be the first woman deputy chief minister of the state.

The BJD and the BJP were in alliance for 11 years between 1998 and 2009 and fought three Lok Sabha and two Assembly elections together.

Patnaik severed ties with the saffron party ahead of the 2009 general elections, months after a riot in Kandhamal the previous year.