The BJP, which has been trying to consolidate its backward votebank, is considering nominating a Dalit candidate in the forthcoming presidential election. In a recent meeting between the RSS and BJP, the Sangh Parivar apparently asked the BJP to consider the names of dalit or tribal leaders for the nation’s highest office. Going by indications so far, Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu may be the NDA’s presidential candidate.
The saffron camp’s thinking is that since Murmu is a woman and a dalit tribal leader, the Opposition “might just find it difficult” to oppose her. Murmu, who hails from Odisha, was a minister of state with independent charge for commerce and transport during the BJP-BJD coalition government in the state.
It is learnt that with Murmu’s name floating, the Biju Janata Dal has so far stayed away from Opposition parleys to select a non-NDA presidential candidate.
Another name doing the rounds in the saffron camp is that of backward leader Thawar Chand Gehlot, Union social justice minister. It may be recalled that BJP president Amit Shah had recently met top Sangh leaders, including RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat, in Nagpur to discuss the presidential election. Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 25, so the presidential election will be held earlier that month.
With Modi as PM, the RSS wants a saffron figure at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Sources said though Mr Amit Shah has talked of consulting the Opposition parties on the presidential candidate, neither the party nor the wider Sangh Parivar are in any mood to accommodate the Opposition’s preferences.