- Saffron party is known for springing a surprise for India's top post
- Vajpayee-led govt chose non-political person, Abdul Kalam, as its candidate for top post in 2002
- Droupadi Murmu will be first tribal woman to occupy the top constitutional post, if she is elected
President election: Battle lines have been drawn for the July 18 presidential election in India. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA has named Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader from Odisha, as its candidate while former Union minister Yashwant Sinha was declared as a joint nominee by major opposition parties, including the Congress, the NCP and the TMC.
BJP president J P Nadda announced the candidature of 64-year-old Murmu, former Jharkhand governor, following a meeting of the party's parliamentary board, hours after opposition parties in a joint statement named Sinha, who was earlier with the BJP but fell out with the Modi-Shah leadership and joined the Trinamool Congress in March 2021.
Murmu's nomination was a surprise move by the ruling government. No one had a clue about her nomination, in fact, her name was doing the rounds for the BJP's likely choice for the top constitutional post in 2017 as well. BJP sent out a significant political message after elevating a Dalit, Ram Nath Kovind, to the top post five years back.
Political analysts and experts knew BJP’s nominee will be a surprise for everyone. Until the announcement, no one knew who might that be? The saffron party is known for springing a surprise for India's top post. Here's how
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Although, BJP first formed the government in 1996, but the party got the chance to nominate the President of India in the year 2002 and it did wonders. Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government chose a non-political person as its candidate for the post of President, which no one had imagined. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was in power at the time, expressed that they would nominate Kalam and both the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party backed his candidacy. After the Samajwadi Party announced its support for Kalam, Narayanan chose not to seek a second term in office, leaving the field clear. Kalam served as the 11th president of India, succeeding K. R. Narayanan. He won the 2002 presidential election with an electoral vote of 922,884, surpassing the 107,366 votes won by Lakshmi Sahgal. His term lasted from 25 July 2002, to 25 July 2007.
Ram Nath Kovind
Like 2002, this time also a surprising name came out from the BJP side. Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA's candidate, was elected as India's 14th President with an overwhelming majority of votes from the country's lawmakers. Kovind defeated the joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker, garnering 65.65 per cent of the votes in the Electoral College. Kovind, a former Bihar governor was the second Dalit and the first BJP member to be elected president.
Murmu (64), a former Jharkhand governor, will be the first tribal woman to occupy the top constitutional post if she is elected, a strong possibility as numbers are stacked in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Considered soft-spoken and affable, the leader, who comes from Mayurbhanj, one of the most backward regions of Odisha, has held various positions in the party, rising through the ranks, and was a minister in the state when the BJP was in alliance with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Why Murmu's chances are bright?
As a tribal woman candidate of the ruling combine, her candidature may persuade many regional parties, not aligned to either the NDA or the opposition, to back her. Even some opposition parties will not be seen to be opposing her.