By fielding Draupadi Murmu, a tribal woman in the Presidential polls, the BJP is trying to make inroads into the community ahead of the next parliamentary election. The party is also hoping to win their support in this year's Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
On June 21, The BJP announced the name of former Jharkhand Governor Murmu as the NDA presidential candidate. BJP chief J P Nadda made the announcement at a press conference. "Detailed discussion was held on 20 names and it was decided to have a candidate from the eastern part of the country. It was also discussed that someone from the tribal community must be made President of India. After discussion, the Parliamentary Board decided to name Draupadi Murmu as President candidate," Nadda had said while announcing her name.
A senior party leader said that the message is clear that after making inroads among all sections of society, now the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership has decided to make inroads among the tribal communities across the country.
"The decision to name Murmu as NDA candidate for the post of the President will benefit the party electorally in the upcoming polls which include assembly polls and the 2024 Parliamentary election," he said.
In Gujarat the tribals traditionally vote for the Congress and they did the same in the last assembly polls in 2017. Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh they play a role in state politics.
"Tribal communities have a decisive role in upcoming Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. The community also holds political importance in other states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan in which assembly polls will be held next year and Jharkhand, Odisha and the Northeastern states. Murmu becoming President of India, will definitely benefit the party in the upcoming assembly polls and parliamentary elections. With her as our presidential candidate, we are hoping to strengthen our position among the tribal voters," he said.
A functionary noted that it is a strategic move with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as there are 47 reserved Scheduled Tribes (ST) constituencies.
Murmu is likely all set to become the first tribal woman President of the country next month.
"By naming Murmu, BJP is wooing the tribal voters, which can play an important role in strengthening the party's position in the upcoming state and national polls. After making Ram Nath Kovind President of the country five years ago, the nomination of a tribal woman leader now is a big political message to the SC/ST communities," a party insider said.
Recently, the BJP has shifted its focus to the tribals by holding events in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and New Delhi. Last year, the Union Government announced to celebrate Bhagwan Birsa Munda's birth anniversary as Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas.
The party also feels that the move will help in gaining a foothold in Odisha from where Murmu hails. "Murmu's candidature will help the BJP to make inroads among the community in many areas where the party is still working hard," a senior leader said.