Draupadi Murmu news: TMC’s dilemma over Draupadi Murmu: Not to undo the party gains made in ST seats in 2021

With the NDA announcing the name of Draupadi Murmu as its presidential candidate, the TMC that mooted the opposition meeting and proposed the name of former minister Yashwant Sinha as the opposition’s choice for the post of the president now has to walk a careful line not to alienate the over ten percent Scheduled Tribe voters in the State.

The TMC made significant gains in the ST dominated region of Jangalmahal in the assembly elections of 2021, wresting the support of many ST voters back from the BJP. The Santhal community that Murmu hails from, is the dominant community here, comprising 51.8 per cent of the total ST population in the state.

On Friday, Murmu also reached out to the TMC for support, apart from calling Congress and NCP.

Faring particularly well in the tribal-dominated districts of West Midnapore, Jhargram, Purulia and Bankura by winning 29 out of 40 constituencies last year, after the Bengal BJP had made serious inroads in the region winning five out of the six Lok Sabha seats in the region in 2019, ST seats however still remain a challenge for the BJP, considering the entrenched roots of the RSS, and particularly in North Bengal from where BJP made maximum gains.

The BJP’s own internal assessment in May revealed that a majority of the Santhal vote share — its biggest base in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had shifted to TMC during assembly polls. Notably, TMC party leaders after having enthusiastically tweeted in favour of Sinha have not really objected or attacked the choice of Murmu as the president.

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The Santhalis, the third-largest scheduled tribe community in the country, are mostly distributed in West Bengal, apart from Odisha and Jharkhand. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee to woo the Santhali voters had promised the recognition of Sarna dharma, after her government officially acknowledged Ol Chiki, the Santhali script, besides running Santhali schools for the children. The Jangalmahal region is dominated by the Santhal community and Kurmis that have also been demanding ST status.

TMC MP and spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the contest was not about “individuals” but about the need to show people disillusioned with the BJP that the opposition is capable of rising above its disagreements and coming together on a national issue.

“Yashwant Sinha is a consensus candidate put forth by 22 parties. This is a moral battle about finding solutions for the country that is being betrayed by the BJP on many counts. The BJP is just doing lip service by appointing a tribal woman at the highest post, because today the ST community across is facing most deprivation when it comes to dignified living. The ST brothers and sisters in our State can see through this manuwadi attitude of the BJP.”

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