Raghubar Das: Rising from the ashes

Having started his career as a labourer in one of the rolling mills in Tata Steel in the 70s to becoming a BJP MLA from Jamshedpur in the 90s, Das eventually became the first non-tribal Chief Minister of Jharkhand in 2014. Photo/PTI

Five years ago, when Raghubar Das was elected as leader of the BJP Legislature Party and was to be sworn in as Chief Minister of Jharkhand, he remarked, “A ‘majdoor’ can become a CM or PM or President. But this can happen only in the BJP.”

Das was not exaggerating. He was stating bare facts. Having started his career as a labourer in one of the rolling mills in Tata Steel in the 70s to becoming a BJP MLA from Jamshedpur in the 90s, Das eventually became the first non-tribal Chief Minister of Jharkhand in 2014.

Hailing from a humble background, Das was born to Chaman Ram (also a labourer) and Sonwati Devi in May 1955. A Teli by caste (an OBC group comprising traders), Das completed his schooling from Jamshedpur and then graduated in Science from Cooperative College. After completing his law from the same college, Das joined student politics. In the mid-70s, he participated in Jayaprakash Narayan’s Sampoorna Kranti (Total Revolution) and was jailed in 1975. He was kept in the Gaya jail in the undivided Bihar.

In 1977, he joined the Janata Party but soon shifted his allegiance to the BJP when the saffron party was founded in January 1980. By that time, Das had become a trade union leader. However, lady luck smiled on him when the BJP decided to field him as its candidate from Jamshedpur (East) in 1995. Since then, he has won five elections (1995, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2014) from this Assembly constituency and is hoping to create a record of sorts by scoring a double hat-trick if he wins it for the sixth consecutive time.

Before becoming the first non-tribal Chief Minister of a tribal-dominated State (Jharkhand has 28 per cent STs and seven per cent SCs), Das served as Urban Development Minister in the Arjun Munda government. Later, he served as Deputy Chief Minister of Jharkhand when JMM chief Shibu Soren became the Chief Minister with the support of BJP.

The first Chief Minister in Jharkhand, who has completed a full five-year term, Das has good equations with all his political opponents.

However, he has made more enemies within the BJP. And the ‘enemy within’ may put a brake on his further march to success.

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