BJP-led NDA’s presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu and Opposition camp’s joint candidate Yashwant Sinha filed their nomination papers for the presidential election last week.
PM Narendra Modi and other senior leaders accompanied Murmu while she filed the nomination. She also sought the support of opposition parties, in what was seen as yet another bid towards reaching a consensus for the next occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Few minutes before filing her nomination papers, Murmu spoke with prominent opposition leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Sources said, the opposition leaders wished Murmu for her success but none assured her of their vote and support as the they have already named Yashwant Sinha as their nominee.
BJP chief JP Nadda also dialled Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda once again, requesting them to support Murmu, saying that a consensus on presidential polls will strengthen the country’s democratic system. Sources also said that this an “NDA ploy” to put the opposition in a bind that they were opposing a woman candidate, who is a Santhal adivasi from a remote Odisha village. The nomination filing of Murmu was utilised by BJP as a show of strength with all chief ministers of the party-ruled states, Union ministers, NDA constituents and leaders from the regional parties like YSRCP, BJD and AIADMK being present on occasion. Murmu offered floral tributes to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi after which she was joined by PM Modi, home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president JP Nadda and other leaders at the Parliament library building from where they headed for nomination filing.
Modi proposed her name for the nomination which was seconded by Rajnath Singh. The second set of nominations was proposed and seconded by the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states. MPs and MLAs from Himachal, Haryana and Gujarat supported the two other sets as four nominations were filed by the NDA nominee. If elected, Murmu will be the first tribal president and the second woman to the post.
A fight to ‘protect Constitution’: Sinha
In a Presidential contest repeatedly pitched as a battle of opposing ideologies, 16 leaders joined Opposition camp’s joint candidate Yashwant Sinha when he filed his nomination papers on Monday eve n as AAP and JMM stayed away.
Though Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren was in the national capital to meet Union Home minister Amit Shah to discuss “development issues”, he did not turn up for the show of the presidential candidate from his home state. AAP, which had tried to take the lead to identify a joint opposition candidate, was also missing amid indications of misgivings in its ranks over whether to position themselves closely with others in the opposition, especially when the party is keen to emerge as BJP’s chief opponent.
Absence of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who had taken the lead in proposing Sinha’s candidature, led to some raised eyebrows though TMC was represented by Lok Sabha MPs Abhishek Banerjee and Saugata Roy.
Interestingly TRS, which had stayed away from opposition huddles so far, formally backed Sinha’s candidature. TRS’s KT Rama Rao joined the opposition leaders in Parliament for Sinha’s nomination. Among the opposition leaders who accompanied Sinha were former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, SP’s Akhilesh Yadav, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and Farooq Abdullah of National Conference. JDS, which had earlier signalled its inclination to support NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu, also chose to stay away.