Mahadalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi was on Tuesday sworn in as Bihar Chief Minister after Nitish Kumar quit the post in the wake of a rout in the Lok Sabha elections.
Governor D Y Patil administered the oath of office and secrecy to Manjhi at a function at the Rajbhawan in Patna.
Nitish on Monday had picked Manjhi to be Bihar’s new chief minister, after JD(U) MLAs gave in to his insistence on stepping down, and authorised him to choose their leader.
Manjhi, 68, MLA from Maqdumpur in Gaya, was Nitish’s SC/ST welfare minister, who came in third behind the BJP and RJD candidates at the Gaya Lok Sabha seat on Friday. He was not among the half a dozen leaders who were widely expected to succeed Nitish after he resigned on Saturday, taking “moral responsibility” for the JD(U)’s poor showing in the Lok Sabha election.
The Mahadalit constituency is a creation of Nitish, who put all Scheduled Caste groups other than Paswans in this tent. Mahadalits account for 12 per cent votes, and are a core Nitish constituency. The choice of a Mahadalit, which Nitish made in consultation with JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav, sends out the politically powerful message of the transfer of power from an OBC — Nitish himself — to an SC.