By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, June 12, 2024: Four-time MLA and tribal leader Mohan Charan Majhi was on Wednesday sworn in as the first BJP chief minister of Odisha at a ceremony here attended by PM Narendra Modi and former Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The mega oath-taking ceremony took place at around 5 pm at Janata Maidan. BJP leaders KV Singh Deo and Pravati Parida were also sworn in as deputy chief ministers of Odisha.

Odisha’s BJP government in its first Cabinet meeting approved a proposal to re-open all four gates of Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri on early Thursday morning and set up a corpus fund for immediate requirement of the 12th-century shrine.

This was stated by Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi after chairing a meeting with his ministers at the state secretariat Lok Seva Bhawan.

“The state government decided to re-open all the four gates of the Puri Jagannath temple in early morning tomorrow in the presence of all ministers. Devotees will have access to the temple through all four gates,” Majhi said.

Stating that opening all the temple gates was one of the promises of the BJP’s election manifesto, the chief minister said that the devotees were facing problems due to closure of the gates.

The previous BJD administration continued to keep the four gates of the temple closed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The devotees can enter through only one gate and there were demands that all gates be opened.

For the sake of conservation and preservation of the temple, Majhi said the Cabinet decided to constitute a corpus fund of ₹ 500 crore to look after the issues related to the shrine.

Replying to a question, the chief minister said that all ministers will leave for Puri on Wednesday night and stay in the pilgrim town so that they can be present when all four gates will be opened on Thursday morning.

Earlier, Prithiviraj Harichandan, Dr Mukesh Mahaling, Bibhuti Bhusan Jena and Dr Krushna Chandra Mohapatra also took oath as ministers in the Mohan Majhi-led government. Other ministers who took oath included Suresh Pujari, Rabinarayan Naik, Nityananda Gond, Krushna Chandra Patra, Ganesh Ram Singh Khuntia, Suryabanshi Suraj and Pradeep Balasamanta.

Oaths were administered by Odisha Governor Raghubar Das. A beeline of top BJP leaders, including PM Modi, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, JP Nadda, Bhupender Yadav, Dharmendra Pradhan, Jual Oram and Ashwini Vaishnaw were in attendance for the mega event.

Naveen Patnaik, who ruled Odisha for as many as 24 years, attended the event after Majhi met him earlier in the day and invited him to the swearing-in ceremony.

After arriving at the event, Patnaik was welcomed by all the senior BJP leaders.

Several chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand also attended the event.

Speaking to reporters earlier, Manji said that the work will begin within 100 days of the formation of the new government to fulfil the promises made in the BJP’s manifesto.

The BJP stormed to power in the recently-concluded Assembly elections, ending 24 years of rule of the Patnaik-led Biju Nanata Dal (BJD) by securing 78 of 147 seats. While the BJD got 51 seats, Congress secured 14, CPI(M) won one seat and Independents got three.

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