Keeping in view 2024 parliamentary polls in mind, the choice of presidential nominee of Modi-Shah-Nadda and RSS combine fell on former Jharkhand governor and experienced tribal leader, Draupadi Murmu and Odhisha chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s support to NDA candidate has made the victory certain.
The tribal population is as high as 22 percent in Odhisha, hence Odhisha CM did not put it at risk to ensure his political survival in future in the state.
On the same analogy, Jharkhand chief minister, Hemant Soren is in a fix but he may review his earlier decision to support joint opposition candidate and likely to support Murmu because Jharkhand has got very tribal population of 26.21% and it will be politically a suicidal step to offend them.
Analysts feel that the idea behind opting for Murmu is amply clear. BJP wants to send a clear message to women voters for 2024 parliamentary polls who constitute above 50 percent of total population. It is a fact that women did support the saffron party in winning state assemblies and two Lok Sabha polls in 2014 as well as 2019.
Secondly, BJP will try to target the tribal population in different states especially non BOJP states. In view of permanent traits, about 85% tribal population lives in various parts of country and 2011 census shows that some states have got higher concentration including Maharashtra (10.05 per cent), Rajasthan (13.4 per cent), Chattisgarh (31 per cent). Gujarat 14.8, West Benga l5.8, Madhya Pradesh 21.1 and Andhra Pradesh 5.3. 11% lives in the North Eastern states and 4% in the rest of India.As per 2011 census, 11.3 percent reside in villages (9, 38, 19,162 ) and 2.8 percent in urban areas) 1, 04, 61,872) in the country which constitute 8.6 percent of total population.
Thirdly, Biju Janta Dal of Naveen had no option but to support tribal candidate as CM refrained from taking the risk of losing the support of 22 percent population. On the same analogy, Hemant Soren of Jharkhand may not think of annoying the tribal community in his state which constitutes 26.21 percent of the population in his state.
Finally, BJP wants to send a message to Tribals in the country that topmost honour has been given by Modi since independence hence they should support him in getting third term to lead the nation.
Interestingly, Murmu, a former school teacher from Odhisha, having several first to her credit, and if elected then she will be first tribal woman to get this highest constitutional post in the country, and 2nd woman after Pratibha Patil to assume this august office. PM, Narendra Modi had surprised everyone in 2017 when he zeroed in on a presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind belonging to SC category and tried to send a strong ‘political’ message that BJP cares for underprivileged sections.
Why did opposition field a candidate
As per available data, the number of MLAs who will take part in this election process is 4,033. All these votes have a value, 5,43,231 whereas the value of the vote of 776 MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is 5,43,200.
The total value of votes of all MPs and MLAs is 10,86,000 and than 50 percent of the votes are needed to win the presidential election. Due to BJP’s calculated move of selecting a tribal leader, NDA and its allies have about 48 percent votes which will go up to 51 percent after adding BJD’s 3 percent of votes.
The BJD with 21 MPs including 12 in Lok Sabha and 9 in Rajya Sabha besides 114 MLAs has more than 31,000 votes in the electoral college of MPs and MLAs.
In all probability, Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR with 4 percent may go with NDA like 2017 presidential election thereby taking the total figure of percentage pf votes of NDA nominee to 55 percent.
YSR Congress with 2 percent votes may take the total votes of NDA nominee to 57 %. According to data, despite 17 opposition parties’ support to Yashwant Sinha, the total percentage of votes may not cross 43% which means sure defeat of its candidate.
Sharad, Abdullah and Gopalkrishan refusal
All 17 opposition parties tried to persuade Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to agree to contest against NDA candidate as he was the opposition’s preferred choice for the 15th President of India but he refused to oblige them.
Similarly, Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah and former Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, rejected the proposal to be the opposition’s nominee.
But Yashant Sinha, a bitter critic of Modi emerged as consensus candidate of the entire opposition, including Congress, though his chances of victory seem to be dim. Opposition leaders have been entrusted the task of reaching out to non-NDA parties that have remained non-committal about their support for a common candidate.
The Telangana Rashtriya Samithi has already announced its decision to support Sinha which can be attributed to failure of KCR to get response at national level to fulfill ambition as his campaign had ended as a cropper.
On the analogy of 2017 presidential elections, BJP and RSS have meticulously and strategically given weightage to Tribal community, a deprived section of the society in India which has got political connotation of setting the agenda for 2024 parliamentary polls which matters the most to retain power at the centre.
(K.S.TOMAR is national columnist and political analyst)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.