Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Backs Droupadi Murmu For President, Latest Non-NDA Party On List

Droupadi Murmu's tribal identity a key factor in Jharkhand, where 26% population is tribal; if elected, she will be first tribal woman to be President

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Backs Droupadi Murmu For President, Latest Non-NDA Party On List

Going against its partner Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has joined the list of non-NDA parties backing the NDA's Droupadi Murmu for the July 18 Presidential elections, citing her tribal identity. Led by Chief Minister Hemant Soren, a tribal himself, the JMM leads the ruling alliance in Jharkhand — where 26 per cent of the population is tribal — since 2019. Ms Murmu, who is from Odisha, has been Governor of Jharkhand too.

If elected — all but done as the BJP-led NDA has the numbers — Ms Murmu will be the first woman from a tribal community to be President of India.


Droupadi Murmu with the Sorens earlier this month. 

Sources said the JMM had told its partners why backing Ms Murmu was its "only honourable option". As governor, she had an "excellent rapport" with both JMM boss Shibu Soren and his son, Hemant Soren, sources further said. She had met them earlier this month. The letter of support today was signed by Shibu Soren as party chief.

As for "joint opposition" candidate Yashwant Sinha, the fact that he is a former MP from Jharkhand did not matter to the JMM. 

Apart from his Upper Caste identity — he is a Kayastha — timing has had a key role. 

A former union minister with a long stint in the BJP before a fallout, Mr Sinha entered the ring before the NDA named its candidate. 

When Ms Murmu entered, equations changed, particularly in states with significant population of tribal communities. 

Yesterday, Uddhav Thackeray — initially on Mr Sinha's side — declared support for Ms Murmu after being urged by a group of 16 MPs of his party. While he was apparently under pressure as he recently lost power after a mutiny in the Sena, he too cited Ms Murmu's tribal identity as his reason. Nearly 10 per cent of Maharashtra's population is tribal.

In Andhra Pradesh, where tribals are nearly 7 per cent, the ruling YSR Congress Party of Jagan Mohan Reddy has supported Ms Murmu. This means all sides in the state — the BJP and its former partner TDP are the opposition — support her.

Even West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the prime mover in putting up a joint opposition candidate, has pointed towards this. "If we had got suggestions about who the [BJP-led NDA's] candidate was, we could have discussed at the all-party meeting,” she has said. Yashwant Sinha was in her party Trinamool Congress before taking the leap, evidently at her behest.

The BJP already has its celebration plans in place for July 21, once votes of the electoral college, comprising all elected MPs and MLAs, are counted.