Dharmendra Pradhan frontrunner to be new Odisha CM but six other contenders also in fray

Even as PM Modi has announced that the new CM of Odisha will take oath on June 10, there is still no clarity on who will finally get the nod.
Jubilant BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda and Union minister Bhupendra Yadav seen celebrating their victory with sweets in Bhubaneswar on June 4.
Jubilant BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda and Union minister Bhupendra Yadav seen celebrating their victory with sweets in Bhubaneswar on June 4.Photo| Debadatta Mallick

BHUBANESWAR: As suspense builds up over who will be the first BJP Chief Minister of Odisha, the party has already begun elaborate preparations for the swearing-in ceremony of its government.

The BJP is set to make the event a grand spectacle and has chosen the expansive open ground of Janata Maidan in Bhubaneswar, which can accommodate a large gathering.

Meanwhile, even as PM Modi has announced that the new CM of Odisha will take oath on June 10, there is still no clarity on who will finally get the nod. All eyes are on the party's parliamentary board meeting in Delhi on Thursday.

Jubilant BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda and Union minister Bhupendra Yadav seen celebrating their victory with sweets in Bhubaneswar on June 4.
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The list of contenders keeps growing.

While ex-Union minister and newly-elected MP from Sambalpur Dharmendra Pradhan is still a frontrunner, many new names have emerged over the past few days.

State BJP chief Manmohan Samal, who can be credited to be the game-changer for BJP with his firm stance against a possible alliance with BJD, is a contender. But what works against him is the fact that he lost the elections.

Comptroller and Auditor General of India and LG of Jammu and Kashmir Girish Chandra Murmu, who belongs to Odisha, is another name making the rounds.

A look at the other names in the race:

KV Singh Deo: A six-time MLA with experience as minister handling key portfolios like Industries and Urban Development, Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Patna (princely state), Balangir. His stature as a senior leader and his contribution to the party's growth in Odisha make him a viable candidate for the top job.

Mohan Majhi: A seasoned politician and strong tribal voice in the state, Mohan Majhi's public service and organisational skills could make him a Chief Ministerial candidate. He has been elected to the Assembly for the fourth time.

Rabi Narayan Naik: With a background in grassroots activism, another prominent tribal leader and four-time MLA Rabi Naik's rise within the BJP's Odisha unit positions him as a potential dark horse candidate for the Chief Minister's post.

Surama Padhy: A rising star within the BJP ranks, Surama Padhy's grassroots connect and advocacy for social causes could propel her into consideration if the party goes for a woman as the Chief Minister. A two-time MLA, she was national president of BJP Mahila Morcha and also the state unit president of the women wing.

Jubilant BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Baijayant Panda and Union minister Bhupendra Yadav seen celebrating their victory with sweets in Bhubaneswar on June 4.
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