Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) backs NDA presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu

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Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal (United), or JD(U) and Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular, or HAM-S on Wednesday pledged to back the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) nominee for the July 18 presidential election former Jharkhand governor Droupadi Murmu.

“Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has always stood for women empowerment and for the betterment of weaker sections of society. Murmu belongs to the tribal community and hails from the weaker sections. That is why the JD (U) welcomes her candidature and will support her. Her victory is certain,” said JD (U) president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh.

Nitish Kumar said he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he called him last evening. “On Tuesday night, PM Narendra Modi called to convey this decision. I thank PM from the core of my heart for this decision,” Kumar said, according to a statement by the chief minister’s office.

HAM-S leader Jitan Ram Manjhi and LJP (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan also declared their support for the NDA nominee.

Murmu, 64, was born into a Santal tribal family in 1958 and overcame significant hardship to complete her education. She started her career as a teacher in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district before venturing into politics. She served as the first woman governor of Jharkhand and told HT that she knew that her name was being discussed for some time but she never expected to be nominated. “I think this is evidence of ‘sabka saath, sabka vishwas’ policy of PM Modi,” she said.

Nitish Kumar’s party is part of the NDA but he hasn’t always gone along with his alliance partners’ choices in the past. In 2017 when the JD (U) was part of the Grand Alliance that comprised the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal, Kumar’s party backed the NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind who was then the Bihar governor. In 2012, when his party was part of the NDA, the JD (U) supported the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s Pranab Mukherjee over former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma who was backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

JD (U) parliamentary party chairman Upendra Kushwaha said Droupadi Murmu was a good choice. “All the parties should support her,” he said.

A JD (U) leader said the party, despite the recent bout of bitterness over the Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the army, supporting the opposition candidate who has no real chance of winning the elections, could have potentially led to the deterioration of relations between the two alliance partners to a point of no return.

Another leader indicated the fact that Nitish Kumar and the opposition’s presidential nominee, Yashwant Sinha, only shared what he described as a “working relationship” when the two were ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet, which may have also contributed to the party decision. To be sure, Yashwant Sinha did form a front against Nitish Kumar in 2020 ahead of the state elections and fiercely campaign against him.

The opposition, RJD, meanwhile has decided to support Yashwant Sinha.


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