The BJP wants Opposition presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha to bite the dust to set narrative for 2024 and beyond
After 1969, the Presidential election is being much talked about even though the outcome is no secret. The BJP’s election management for a big victory margin, higher than 2017, has made politics unusually out of the ordinary.
The fad for a super number of votes is unparalleled in an election that has little relevance than going past the halfway mark. There may be much more to it than meets the eyes. There may be a new order in the pipeline. Nobody spells that out but it can be for a variety of reasons. The 1969 was different –VV Giri against Sanjeeva Reddy. That was an intra-Congress affair that finally led to decimation of the syndicate and installed Indira Gandhi as the new leader in the party.
The opposition is also losing its credibility for not raising the issue of inflation and a lot more. Congress is busy with its first family and a pseudo presidential battle. Together or individually, none of them even bring out a protest rally.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is himself leading the party in creating a sort of record by having the maximum number of votes for the ruling alliance’s presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu. It is troubling the opposition parties the most and many leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, are feeling cornered by an astute BJP leadership. Modi’s love-hate relationship with the opposition nominee Yashwant Sinha is known. Having fallen out of his favour, it’s no wonder that the strategies in the BJP are being made to make Sinha bite the dust. In the process, the entire Opposition is finding itself in an uncanny situation and uncertain future.
The sudden turn in Maharashtra politics with 55 Shiv Sena MLAs joining a government with the BJP is planned to make the state politics interesting. The way the Eknath Shinde group forced Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thakre to vote for Murmu speaks volumes. Shiv Sena has a total vote value of 25893 in the Presidential election.
Wherever the opposition parties are not cohesive, it is getting a shock and finds their ranks tilting towards Murmu. In UP, Samajwadi Party ranks appear mysteriously favouring Murmu. Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) chief Shivpal Singh Yadav has announced that he would vote for Murmu. Om Prakash Rajbhar attended the dinner of Murmu and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, but the next morning he said he would vote for the candidate being supported by Akhilesh Yadav. Mayawati’s BSP is supporting Murmu.
UP may spring some surprises. Jansatta Dal Loktantrik founder Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias ‘Raja Bhaiya’ extended his support to Murmu, saying his two MLAs will vote for the NDA candidate.
Murmu met 31 YSR Congress Party MPs and 151 MLAs and later joined a tea party hosted by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, who assured support for the NDA candidate in the Presidential election. The opposition Telugu Desam Party with 4 MPs and 23 MLAs has announced to support the NDA nominee. The lone MLA of Jana Sena who is virtually now in YSRCP has also announced to back Murmu. In effect, all votes from Andhra Pradesh will go to Murmu.
Almost similar is the situation in Odisha. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD and BJP are voting for her. There is little doubt about Bihar either despite some reservations of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren who had initially thrown his phalanx with Sinha almost overnight not only was won over by BJP but even told Sinha not to visit his home state for campaigning.
Rajasthan has seen cross voting during the Rajya Sabha polls. Now BJP is trying to dent the Congress votes with appeal to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe MLAs to vote for tribal Murmu. The BJP backed Subhash Chandra lost the RS poll recently from Rajasthan.
Surprises remain in West Bengal. While Mamata Banerjee, worried about Santhal votes, blames the BJP for not telling about Murmu’s candidature, her missive to Yashwant Sinha not to visit the state for campaigning speaks volume. She has not yet said how she would vote.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal still holds the AAP card close to his chest. Though it is certain that Murmu is getting the majority votes, the BJP poll managers are targeting for more than 75 percent votes.
The total value of votes is 10,86, 431, with a total of 776 MPs and 4033 MLAs constituting the electoral college. The BJP commands 48 percent votes and the NDA has over seven lakh votes.
The BJP is aiming to surpass votes polled by the incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind over Meira Kumar in 2017. Kovind had won with more than 65 percent votes. The BJP has taken the Presidential election as a test case for the 2024 polls. It will show its might for the one-nation-one-party to carry on a number of unfulfilled tasks.
(The writer is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal.)