BJP’s Masterstroke in Picking Draupadi Murmu

In a first, the BJP made history by announcing Draupadi Murmu, a tribal woman, as the Presidential candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

By announcing Murmu, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has played a masterstroke in terms of wooing the women electorate — the segment currently on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus — and the tribal population. After nominating Ram Nath Kovind — a Dalit from Uttar Pradesh — as the President five years ago, the selection of a tribal leader now is a big political message to the SC/ST population of the country.

Also, the party is trying to gain a foothold in Odisha and Jharkhand and will look to capitalise on the announcement of Murmu as presidential candidate. Murmu hails from Odisha and has been Governor of Jharkhand. The BJP is also wooing the Odiya electorate by calling Murmu the first presidential candidate from the state. While this also ensures BJD support in the Presidential elections, it gives a foothold to the BJP in Odisha in the future, a state the party is eyeing.

In choosing Murmu, the BJP has shown the Opposition that their candidate is better symbolically and politically compared to the Opposition’s choice — Yashwant Sinha — who has always been perceived as a Modi-baiter.

BJP president JP Nadda, while addressing the media, categorically stated that the BJP and its allies discussed over 20 names, finalised that of Murmu and made the announcement on Tuesday itself since the Opposition had announced its candidate.

At various political events, public and closed-door, PM Modi has asked the party to recognise the growing voter base among women. Senior party leaders believe that women voters have emerged as a loyal vote bank for the BJP due to various welfare schemes directed at the segment such as Ujjwala, Swachh Bharat and free ration to the poor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Similarly, the party’s focus has shifted to tribals in recent months, with the latest being JP Nadda’s visit to Ranchi in June where he praised Bhagwan Birsa Munda and assured tribals that given a chance, the BJP would work for their betterment in the state. The party’s senior leaders like Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have also wooed tribals in states like Madhya Pradesh. Nadda had hosted a big tribal parties’ meet at the BJP headquarters in May this year where parties across regions were invited.

Senior party leaders feel that the decision to finalise Murmu’s name will benefit the party electorally in the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh as both states have a decisive percentage of the community, which also holds sway in several other states, including Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Northeast and Odisha.

For the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, this also comes across as a strategic move on the BJP’s part, given that there are 47 reserved ST constituencies in the Lok Sabha.

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