As the presidential elections approach, the BJP is apparently looking for a candidate who can be sent to Raisina hill, but the road there may be steeper as all regional parties prepare for a confrontation with the ruling party.
Regional parties are reeling from the alleged hunts by law enforcement under the Union government. However, so far, no serious initiative has been initiated on either side. Internal unrest is ongoing in the opposition as well as in the ruling alliance, which is confident of winning the elections due to its numerical strength in parliament. But a united opposition can definitely upset the BJP’s equations.
Now the big question is whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and put forward a consensus candidate like APJ Abdul Kalam, whose candidacy created a divide in the opposition camp in 2002 ? Things may be a bit different this time as the BJP is stronger now than it was during Vajpayee’s time, with over 300 MPs in the Lok Sabha and around 100 MPs in the Upper House.
While ruling party sources are tight-lipped on the presidential candidate, several rounds of meetings with RSS leaders have taken place to come to a conclusion. In the past, Vajpayee had lined up Kalam to gain support from some non-NDA parties, while UPA candidates Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee had gained support from many parties that were then part of the NDA. At the time of Kalam, formations like the Samajwadi party, which was in opposition, had supported him.
In 2002, Vajpayee succeeded in uniting the Congress and other regional parties, with the exception of left-wing parties, to elect Kalam as president. At that time, the first candidate proposed by the NDA was PC Alexander, a former bureaucrat, but the Congress was not enthusiastic as it was in favor of giving a second term to KR Narayanan, and was also trying to raise the vice- President Krishan Kant. , which had the support of Telugu party leader Desam Chandrababu Naidu, who was an NDA partner at the time. Samajwadi party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav also supported Kant. But on the announcement of Kalam’s name, Mulayam Singh sided with the NDA and the Congress also agreed despite party differences. Kalam got around 90% of the vote. Mamata Banerjee from Trinamool Congress, Bal Thackeray from Shiv Sena and Naveen Patnaik from BJD had also supported Kalam, and because of his connection to Tamil Nadu, DMK and AIADMK also joined us. BJP sources say that if the party wants to send a political message, it could very well propose a tribal candidate this time around, given that it last proposed a scheduled caste candidate to incumbent President Ram Nath. Kovind. In such a case, the two names doing the rounds are Anusuiya Uikey, the current governor of Chhattisgarh, and Draupadi Murmu, the former governor of Jharkhand. While Uikey belongs to Madhya Pradesh, Murmu hails from Mayurbhanj, a tribal district of Odisha.
The electoral college includes 776 deputies from both houses and 4,120 deputies from all states and union territories. The electoral college had 1,098,903 votes, with 5,49,452 votes being the majority. However, with the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly with a vote value of 6,264, suspended since 2019, the majority has now fallen to 546,320 votes.
In terms of vote value, Uttar Pradesh has the maximum with about 83,824 votes, followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal. As for the BJP, it has 465,797 votes, plus the 71,329 of its alliance partners, the total comes to 537,126.
The BJP enjoys a raw majority in the assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand, but if the opposition joins hands and presents a common candidate, the saffron camp could struggle to win the elections. The only way would be a division in the opposition camp.
If the opposition presents a candidate like NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who is able to garner support from Trinamool Congress, BJD, TRS, YSRCP, CPI-M, CPI and other parties, the BJP will have a difficult task in hand, because although the saffron party has its government in major states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka, the opposition is not left behind in these states.
Incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind is about to complete his term and it is unclear whether he will get another term as the BJP will field a candidate ahead of the 2024 general election and state polls that will s will follow.