Mohan Charan Manjhi wins CM race in Odisha as BJP eyes tribal votes

Mohan Charan Manjhi

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BJP picks Mohan Charan Manjhi as next Odisha CM

By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, June 11: Four-term Keonjhar legislator Mohan Charan Manjhi will be Odisha’s next chief minister. The legislative party meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday elected Manjhi to lead the first government of the party in Odisha.

Manjhi will lead a team of two deputy chief ministers – KV Singh Deo and Pravati Parida. Union Ministers – Rajnath Singh and Bhupender Yadav – oversaw the election of the legislative party leader of the BJP in Odisha.

Manjhi had first won the election for legislative Assembly in 2000. He had been elected three more times his maiden victory.

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In the race for the CM post, Manjhi bagged the endorsement of the BJP top brass for his long sting in the saffron outfit. He was the chief whip of the BJP in the last Assembly.

The BJP seemingly played the tribal card in picking up Manjhi for the chief ministers’ post. In line with caste balance efforts as seen in other states, the BJP put in place two deputy chief ministers.

The tribal choice for the BJP came on the back of the saffron outfit drawing a blank in Jharkhand in the Lok Sabha elections. None of the tribal candidate of the BJP in Jharkhand could win the Lok Sabha elections.

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The BJP’s two nominees in the Union council of ministers headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Jharkhand are non-tribal. Annapurna Devi and Sanjay Seth became ministers at the Centre from Jharkhand.

By picking up Manjhi for the hot seat in Odisha, the BJP is seeking to appeal to the tribal vote base in Jharkhand also. After the arrest of Hemant Soren, former chief minister of Jharkhand, the BJP found facing the ire of the key electoral constituency in the state.

The BJP is bracing up for the Jharkhand Assembly elections later this year. While the BJP counts on Arjun Munda and Babulal Marandi among the tribal leaders. But they were not able to counter the campaign of Kalpana Soren, wife of Hemant Soren, in Jharkhand.

The BJP won a total of 74 Assembly seats in Odisha out of the total strength of 147. The BJP swept to power in Odisha for the first time to end the uninterrupted tenure of 24 years of Naveen Patnaik as the chief minister of the state.

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