Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said on Saturday that she will support National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Droupadi Murmu in the presidential polls. The decision to back Ms Murmu, a tribal leader, was taken as the BSP "has identified the tribal community as a major part of our movement", she said.
The BSP chief also hit out at the Opposition for not consulting her party on their presidential pick Yashwant Sinha. "Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called only a few select parties for the first meeting and (Nationalist Congress Party chief) Sharad Pawar also did not call the BSP for a discussion. The opposition only put up a pretence of trying to form a consensus on the president candidate," she said.
Since the Opposition is continuing with its casteist mindset against her party, the BSP, Ms Mayawati said, was independent to take a decision on the presidential elections.
"The BSP is the only national party whose leadership is with Dalits. We are not a party that follows the BJP or the Congress, or one that is involved with industrialists. On the other hand we take decisions in favour of the oppressed, and if any party takes a decision in favour of such castes or class of people, we support these parties irrespective of the consequences," it said.
Droupadi Murmu, the first woman tribal leader likely to be elected to the top constitutional post of the country, filed her nomination in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP and alliance leaders on Friday, in a big show of strength ahead of the July 18 presidential election.
She is a former Governor of Jharkhand and a former Odisha minister.
She will face opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha in the presidential contest.
If elected, Ms Murmu will be the first woman tribal leader and the second woman in the post. At 64, Ms Murmu will also be the youngest president ever, second only to N Sanjeeva Reddy, who was a few days elder to her when he became the President.
The presidential election would be held on July 18 to elect a successor to the current President Ram Nath Kovind and the result would be out on July 21.
President Ram Nath Kovind's term will end on July 24.