• Wednesday, August 10, 2022

INDIA

‘Insulted’ Indian opposition party decides to support ruling party-backed presidential candidate

Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

IN yet another instance of lack of cohesion among India’s opposition, a major anti-Narendra Modi party has decided to back Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader who has been picked by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the presidential election slated for July 18.

Mayawati, who leads the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – a major party based in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and has its vote bank among the Dalits – on Saturday (25) said he will back Murmu in the presidential polls. She said the decision was taken as the BSP “has identified the tribal community as a major part of our movement”.

The veteran leader also slammed the opposition for not consulting the BSP while picking former finance and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha as its presidential candidate.

“(West) Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee called only a few select parties for the first meeting and (Nationalist Congress Party chief) Sharad Pawar also did not call the BSP for a discussion. The opposition only put up a pretence of trying to form a consensus on the president candidate,” Mayawati said, Indian news channel NDTV reported.

She also accused the opposition of continuing with a casteist mindset against her party and said it was free to take a call on the presidential elections.

“The BSP is the only national party whose leadership is with Dalits. We are not a party that follows the BJP or the Congress, or one that is involved with industrialists. On the other hand we take decisions in favour of the oppressed, and if any party takes a decision in favour of such castes or class of people, we support these parties irrespective of the consequences,” the party said.

In the 2017 presidential election, Mayawati had said that she would back Ram Nath Kovind, the current president and a Dalit, if the opposition did not field a Dalit candidate also. Later, she changed her mind after the opposition also fielded a Dalit candidate in Meira Kumar who eventually lost to Kovind.

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