Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With the Election Commission setting the ball rolling for Presidential elections and President Ram Nath Kovind is all set to leave the Raisina Hill in July this year, the countdown for picking his successor has gained momentum.

There is speculation within the political corridors that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would either pick a tribal, a woman or a minority candidate for the highest office of the land.

Amid the speculations, two tribal leaders from Odisha- former Jharkhand governor and State BJP leader Draupadi Murmu and former Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram are at the forefront for the next President of India.

Among others, the names of former Chief Minister of Jharkhand and current Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, serving Governors Arif Mohammed Khan (Kerala), Anandiben Patel (UP), Anusuiya Uikey (Chhattisgarh), Thawar Chand Gehlot (Karnataka) are also doing the rounds. However, it is yet to be cleared who is going to be the candidates of the Opposition.

Meanwhile, Oram said he is not aware of the development.

“Speculations are rife in this regard in different sections of India and I have nothing to speak on the matter,” said Oram.

As per senior journalist Sandip Mishra, NDA may play a tribal card or spring a surprise in the upcoming election.

“NDA may play a tribal card in the forthcoming Presidential election and this is why Murmu and Oram’s names are being discussed. Murmu’s name was also doing the rounds in the last election. NDA may spring a surprise at the last moment and bring a minority face for the top constitutional post,” said Mishra.

As per the equation, the total number of votes for MPs and MLAs in the country are 10,98,882. While NDA has a stake of 48.8 per cent votes, the Opposition parties have 51.1 per cent votes in their hands. NDA requires 2.2 per cent more votes in a bid to help its candidate win the Presidential election. 

In this context, YSRC (with 4 per cent, 43, 644 votes) and BJD (with 2.9 per cent, 31,854 votes) will play a crucial role in the election.  Both the parties need to support NDA for the victory of its Presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, BJP’s national leaders are trying their best to garner support for their candidate. A couple of days back, YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Speculations are rife that both the parties will support the NDA candidate.

“Discussion is on with various parties who are expected to extend their support to NDA for this constitutional process. We are hopeful that there will be no problem in the victory of the NDA candidate in the Presidential election,” said State BJP General Secretary Prithviraj Harichandan.

As per BJD, the party supremo Naveen Patnaik will take the appropriate decision at the right time.

“The party will consider the interest of the State and Patnaik will take an appropriate decision at the right time,” said senior BJD leader Shashi Bhusan Behera.

On the other hand, Congress will also discuss with all the parties to garner support for its candidate.

“The party will discuss with YSR Congress, BJD and other parties for their support towards the Congress candidate. However, we are sure that BJD will not give us support due to the chit fund scam,” said senior Congress leader Saptagiri Ulaka.