PATNA (TIP): Makhdumpur MLA Jitan Ram Manjhi was sworn in on May 20 as Bihar’s 23rd chief minister. Governor D Y Patil administered the oath of office and secrecy to Manjhi and 17 ministers, including the two new faces of Dulalchand Goswami and Vinay Bihari. Manjhi, 68, was SC/ST welfare minister under former CM Nitish Kumar who resigned owning responsibility for the poor performance of JD (U) in the parliamentary polls.

He is the third dalit chief minister of Bihar after Bhola Paswan Shastri and Ram Sunder Das, but first from the Musahar caste. All the ministers of Nitish cabinet have been retained. Dulalchand and Vinay Bihari, the two independent MLAs who supported the JD (U) government in writing, have been inducted as cabinet ministers. The ministers who took oath are Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Narendra Singh, Brishen Patel, Ramai Ram, Bhim Singh, Damodar Raut, Narendra Narayan Yadav, P K Shahi, Shahid Ali Khan, Shyam Rajak, Nitish Mishra, Awadhesh Prasad Kushwaha, Gautam Singh, Lesie Singh besides Goswami and Bihari. While Manjhi chaired his first cabinet meeting as CM after the swearing-in ceremony, former CM Nitish denied the opposition charges that the new CM would be remote controlled by him.

“This government will run directly, and not through remote control,” he said. He said the new CM would work according to his wisdom and fulfill the targeted projects. “I will keep an eye on his working,” Nitish said and reiterated that he would now work among the people. Hitting out at BJP, he said the party was in rumour mongering business and was lying that 50 JD (U) MLAs were in their contact.

Some BJP and RJD leaders were also present at the swearingin ceremony. The former CM said attempts would be made to create problems for the new government, but it would work with firm commitment. He took pains to explain that it was a big challenge for him to convince the legislators about the reasons behind his resignation.

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