BJP leader Arjun Munda became the eighth chief minister of the 10-year-old Jharkhand state on Saturday as leader of a coalition with, among others, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
Munda, who is having a go at the top job for the third time, will have two deputies — Sudesh Mahato of the All Jharkhand Students Union and JMM patriarch Shibu Soren's son, Hemant Soren.
Immediately after taking over the reins, Munda sacked 40 ad-hoc assistant engineers engaged with the road construction department on the ground that their service was not "in the interest of the state".
The decision was taken by a three-member cabinet, chaired by the CM, said Chief Secretary A K Singh.
Singh said the state sought to send out a clear message through the media that it would not tolerate corruption at any level and was keen to give a clean government.
Although the function at the Governor's house showed the deep rift in the BJP over the tie-up with the JMM — the BJP's partner last time in a government that lasted only for five months — Munda said he would focus on strengthening the party's grass-root level.
Expressing resentment over Gadkari's decision to join hands with the JMM, some top leaders already dissociated themselves from the government formation. The result: The list of BJP heavyweights who did not attend the function was longer than those who flew in.
L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Anant Kumar stayed away, while Munda's mentor and former party president Rajnath Singh, Uttarakhand CM Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', Rajya Sabha MP S S Ahluwalia, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh were present.
One of the surprising absentees, however, was party chief Nitin Gadkari, whose late night phone call from Russia on Monday reportedly helped Munda bag the job, elbowing out state BJP president Raghubar Das.
But Singh put up a brave face, claiming the government had blessings of all leaders. "The government has been formed in the larger interest of the state."