Bharatiya Janata Party leader Raghubar Das will be the new chief minister of Jharkhand, thus becoming the first non-tribal CM of the 14-year-old state.
Das, who won the Jamshedpur East seat defeating the trailing candidate by more than three times the number of votes, was made CM after a a meeting of its legislators in Ranchi on Friday morning. He was elected as the leader of the legislative party by the newly-elected MLAs.
The 59-year-old is BJP vice-president and his name cropped up following the electoral defeat of BJP's prime candidate for CM Arjun Munda. The tribal leader has been CM thrice earlier, but lost his seat this election. He was running from the Kharsawan constituency.
Tribals form a quarter of Jharkhand's 3.3 crore population. Since the state's formation in 2000, it has had nine governments and five CMs, all tribal: Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda, Shibu Soren, Madhu Koda, Hemant Soren.
Senior BJP leaders from Jharkhand had earlier maintained that the CM's ethnicity should not be an issue, but it was more important to have a "capable leader."
"Definitely, a non-tribal can become chief minister in Jharkhand. Everyone knows well how earlier chief ministers had performed in the last few years. A capable leader should become the chief minister. He could be a non-tribal also," Karia Munda, one of most senior tribal leaders in Jharkhand, had told TOI last week.
Munda too had made similar statements earlier. BJP has been unable to garner much of the tribal vote, with most of them having gone to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
The decision to make Das CM was made after the party's two central observers -J P Nadda and Vinay Sahastrabuddhe - arrived in Ranchi Thursday night to oversee the election.
BJP state unit spokesman Ajay Maroo was quoted, as saying that apart from the two central observers, the BJP's in-charge for Jharkhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat, state unit president Ravindra Rai, and former chief minister Arjun Munda will attend the meeting.
(with input from agencies)