Patna, May 20 :
Jitan Ram Manjhi, a 68-year-old Mahadalit leader, was Tuesday sworn-in as the 23rd chief minister of Bihar.
Manjhi along with 17 ministers took oath of office at a simple ceremony at Raj Bhavan here.
“Governor D.Y. Patil, who administered the oath to Manjhi and his ministers, directed the new government to seek a trust vote on the floor of the house May 23,” officials said.
Soon after taking oath, the soft-spoken Manjhi told media persons that he will speed up development work initiated by outgoing chief minister Nitish Kumar.
“I will take everyone’s help to speed up the development of Bihar. I will follow the development roadmap of Nitish Kumar,” he said.
Manjhi was Monday named by outgoing chief minister Nitish Kumar after he was authorised by the Janata Dal-United legislature party to select a new leader.
Nitish Kumar refused to withdraw his resignation after his party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha polls.
Manjhi, a graduate, began his life as a shepherd to earn his livelihood. His father Ramjeet Ram Manjhi was a landless labourer.
“It is a fact that Manjhi in his childhood worked as a shepherd for a farmer in his native village,” a close relative of Manjhi told IANS here.
Manjhi along with Nitish Kumar and JD-U chief Sharad Yadav Monday met Governor D.Y. Patil and staked claim to form the government.
Party leaders said Nitish Kumar chose the soft-spoken Manjhi as he is a non-controversial leader with a clean image.
Manjhi – from the Mushahar community – was SC/ST welfare minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet. He is legislator from the Makhdoompur assembly constituency.
“For the first time, a leader from the Mushahar community, poorest and at the bottom of the socio-economic category, has become chief minister,” JD-U spokesperson Nawal Kumar Sharma said.
Manjhi also contested the Lok Sabha poll from Gaya constituency but lost.
A native of Mahkar village in Gaya district, Manjhi is the third Dalit to become chief minister after Bhola Paswan Shastri and Ram Sundar Das.
People in his village Tuesday celebrated by distributing sweets, playing with colours and dancing to drum beats.
The JD-U earlier said it has the majority to form the government with support of the Communist Party of India and Independent legislators. Besides, four Congress legislators have extended support to it from outside.