The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today broke from tradition and chose Raghuvar Das, the first non-tribal, to be the new chief minister of Jharkhand in 14 years since it was carved out of Bihar.
The new government, possibly a coalition, will take oath of office on Sunday. With 37 seats, the BJP in coalition with ally AJSU (5 seats) could form a stable government with the support of 42 MLAs in the 81 member Assembly.
Hours after his election by the BJP Legislature Party, Das, a Vice President of BJP, staked claim to form a government in the state that was notorious for political instability.
Accompanied by alliance partner AJSU party President Sudesh Mahto and winning MLAs, Das met Governor Syed Ahmed and staked claim to form the new government. The fact that former party chief minister Arjun Munda, a tribal, lost the election helped Das’ case greatly.
“We met the governor and staked claim. We suggested to him that we want to take oath at 11 am on December 28, and the Governor agreed to it,” Das said after meeting Ahmed.
“We will give good and corruption-free governance and development will pick up. We will also work for the 93 per cent people in the unorganised sector, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes and the poor,” said the 60-year-old Chief Minister-elect with trade union background.
Earlier in the day, central observers J P Nadda and Vinay Sahasrabuddhe attended the BJP LP meeting, in which Munda was also present.
“The BJP’s legislature party elected Raghuvar Das as its leader. Saryu Roy and C P Singh proposed his name, and supported by all,” Nadda told reporters.
Roy, who was among the front-runners for the top job, had also accompanied Das to the Raj Bhavan.
Das was a Deputy Chief Minister in the erstwhile Shibu Soren government but was out after Munda took over from Soren in the outgoing house.
He will be the third chief minister of BJP after Babulal Marandi and Arjun Munda.
Marandi has since quit BJP and floated Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik). While he suffered defeats from Dhanwar and Giridih this time, his party won eight seats.
“I should not speak on it,” a senior BJP tribal leader said when asked to comment on how he saw the party having decided to break the precedent of having a chief minister from the tribal community.
In the past 14 years, Jharkhand has seen nine governments with five tribal chief ministers—-Babulal Marandi (once), Arjun Munda (thrice), Shibu Soren (thrice), Madhu Koda (once) and Hemant Soren (once).
A Science and Law graduate, Das has been representing Jamshedpur (East) constituency from 1995 and had taken part in the students movement of 1974 and the workers agitations in TELCO.
For the first time, a pre-poll alliance partners could muster a majority in the state, which has only seen unstable governments.