“This is the right time to have a tribal as the country's next President and I have done nothing wrong in supporting a tribal for the presidential election,” Netam told PTI.
He said many times he felt that “tribals were not professional politicians” and because of this they sometimes landed into problems.
“There was an urgent need to ensure that tribals move forward in all spheres of development,” he said. Congress on Thursday suspended the 70-year-old tribal leader from the party with immediate effect hours after he backed P A Sangma in the presidential race.
For about a month, the Tribal Forum of India (headed by Netam) had been working towards a tribal candidate for this year's Presidential elections, he said.
The Forum had even suggested some names for the post including former Nagaland Chief Minister S C Jamir, Netam said while expressing happiness that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalitha had supported his forum.
He said the Forum had met leaders of all political parties to enlist their support for a tribal presidential nominee.
“It is for the Congress to decide what it wants to do with me, I do not worry about it,” Netam said. The former Union Minister said the Forum was unable to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi “may be because she did not have time” to meet them.
“In such a case, at least some other Congress leader must have been deputed to meet the Forum leaders,” Netam said.