BJP’s Mohan Charan Majhi Sworn in as Odisha CM, Ending Naveen Patnaik’s 24-Year Reign

Bhubaneshwar, 12th June 2024: As Odisha embarks on a new chapter in its political landscape after nearly 25 years under Naveen Patnaik, the BJP aims to fulfil the aspirations of the people in a state that not only delivered the party’s first government in the East but also contributed 20 MPs to Narendra Modi’s government, surpassing the TDP by four. The BJP has chosen Mohan Charan Majhi to be sworn in as Chief Minister at a significant ceremony in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

The decision to appoint the new CM came a week after the simultaneous election results in the state, indicating the thorough deliberations involved in selecting a leader who could not only meet the people’s expectations but also effectively integrate into the BJP’s broader strategy.

Majhi, a tribal leader and four-time MLA with a 10-year hiatus in between, has grassroots experience that has likely enriched his understanding of local issues. Known for his vocal advocacy on people’s issues, sometimes clashing with district authorities during the BJD regime, Majhi’s strength lies in his acceptance within the factionalized state BJP unit. This acceptance, however, brings its own set of challenges as he steps into the role of CM.

Majhi faces the formidable task of succeeding a leader who governed Odisha for 24 years, fulfilling the expectations of a generation that matured politically under Naveen Patnaik. Comparisons with the former CM, whose departure evoked strong emotions, are inevitable.

Odisha, once synonymous with poverty, has transformed significantly over the past two decades. It is now a state characterized by ambition and achievement. For the BJP, the challenge is just beginning. At 52, Majhi is seen as a blend of youthful energy and mature experience, starting his political journey as a sarpanch. Representing Keonjhar, a mineral-rich area in North Odisha close to Jharkhand, Majhi’s elevation acknowledges a region historically significant to the BJP before the BJD’s rise. His appointment also enhances the BJP’s outreach to the tribal community, which constitutes over 20% of the state’s population. This move aligns with the party’s narrative, following President Droupadi Murmu’s rise from Mayurbhanj, now mirrored by Majhi from Keonjhar, both from the Santhal community.

The appointment of K. V. Singh Deo and Pravati Parida as Deputy Chief Ministers aims to ensure regional balance. Singh Deo, a six-time MLA, brings ministerial experience from the BJP’s previous coalition with the BJD (2000-2009). His selection represents West Odisha, acknowledging the region’s loyal support base that has benefited the BJP. Notably, Suresh Pujari, a former MP and senior party leader from the region, was considered a strong contender for the CM post until Majhi’s appointment was confirmed.

West Odisha, adjacent to Chhattisgarh, has evolved into a BJP stronghold, partly due to perceived neglect by the coastal leadership in Bhubaneswar. The region has seen increased attention and development projects from both state and central governments, especially after Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s successful Lok Sabha election from Sambalpur, a key area in the western region.

Singh Deo’s role brings unique challenges, balancing regional advocacy with broader state interests. His endorsement of Majhi’s leadership was highlighted by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister Bhupender Yadav, who served as central observers during the BJP Legislature Party meeting that confirmed the new CM’s selection.