BJP’s tribal face Mohan Charan Majhi is new Odisha CM; swearing-in on Wednesday

K.V. Singh Deo and Pravati Parida will be the deputy CMs

Mohan Charan Majhi Mohan Charan Majhi | Facebook

Mohan Charan Majhi, a four-time tribal MLA from Keonjhar district, has been chosen as the Bharatiya Janta Party’s first chief minister of Odisha. He will take oath along with two deputy chief ministers—K.V. Singh Deo and Pravati Parida—on Wednesday at a ceremony in Bhubaneswar which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central leaders.

Majhi, 52, belongs to the Santhal tribal  community. While the tribals constitute 23 per cent of the state’s population, Majhi will only be third tribal CM after Congress’s late Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamang, both of who had shorter tenures.

Majhi, a law graduate, will also be the first chief minister from north Odisha’s Keonjhar district. He was an active opposition MLA in the outgoing assembly as  the chief whip of the party. He was also the government’s deputy chief whip during the second tenure of the BJD-BJP alliance government from 2004.

Majhi started his career as a teacher in Saraswati Shishu Mandir. He had an inclination towards the RSS ideology from school days. Majhi started his political career as a gram panchayat sarpanch. 

He represents Keonjhar assembly seat from where he had been elected to state assembly for the first time on a BJP ticket in 2000. He is considered very close to Union  Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. So, Pradhan might have played an important role in his selection to the top post.

Initially it was expected that Pradhan might come as the chief minister. The idea was dropped probably because the BJP needed more MPs in Delhi because of the party’s reduced strength.

Majhi was elected as the BJP legislature party leader at its meeting in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. The announcement was made by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh who had attended the meeting as a central observer along with Bhupendra Yadav.

At the meeting, senior party leader Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo and first time MLA Pravati Parida were announced as the deputy chief ministers. Both could be considered as OBC leaders though Singh Deo, a six-time MLA, is a scion of Bolangir royal family. His grandfather late R.N. Singh Deo, who belonged to C. Rajagopalchari’s Swatantra Party, was Odisha’s first non-Congress chief minister in the late 1960s.

In Parida, Odisha will have its firs woman deputy chief minister. Earlier, Nandini Satpathy of the Congress was Odisha’s only woman chief minister in 1970s.

While Chief Minister-designate Majhi is from north Odisha, the two deputy chief minister candidates are from western and coastal Odisha. Singh Deo is from western Odisha’s Bolangir district where outgoing Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik faced his political career’s first defeat this time from Kantabanji assembly segment. Singh Deo represents Patnagarh constituency where he had faced defeat from BJD in 2019. Singh Deo’s wife Sangita Singh Deo has been reelected as BJP MP from Bolangir Lok Sabha seat this time.

Parida is from Puri district though her constituency Nimapara falls under Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seat. She is also considered to be close to Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Though caste consideration matters less in Odisha politics, the BJP seems to be making experiment on that basis. In 147 member Odisha assembly, the BJP won 78 seats whereas the BJD has been relegated to 51. In Lok Sabha election, the BJP won 20 out of 21 seats of Odisha with BJD reduced to zero while the Congress retained its single seat. The BJP tally in assembly is expected to increase as a few independents with earlier allegiance to the party have again shown inclination towards it.


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