Rairangpur: The ruling NDA’s Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu has said she is optimistic about getting the support of all MLAs and MPs from Odisha cutting across party lines as she is the daughter of the soil.
A tribal leader-turned-governor said she was surprised and delighted on learning on television that she was nominated for the top job by the NDA.
“I am surprised as well as delighted. As a tribal woman from remote Mayurbhanj district, I had not thought of becoming the candidate for the top post,” Murmu told reporters at her Rairangpur residence.
She said the NDA government’s decision to nominate a tribal woman for the top post is a reflection of the BJP’s slogan of “sabka saath, sabka vikas aur sabka vishwas”.
Asked whether she can get the support of the state’s ruling BJD, which holds over 2.8 per cent of votes in the electoral college for the forthcoming Presidential poll, Murmu said, “I am optimistic of getting support from all members of the Odisha Legislative Assembly and MPs.”
She also said, “I am a daughter of the soil. I have the right to request all members to support me as an Odia.”
Born in the Santhal community, Murmu began her political career as a councillor in Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997 and rose through the ranks to become a minister in the BJD-BJP government in 2000 and later the governor of Jharkhand in 2015.
A two-term former MLA from Rairangpur, Murmu held on to her assembly seat in 2009 when the BJD had snapped ties with the saffron camp weeks ahead of the state elections which were swept by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s party.
She said, “I was not expecting this opportunity. I was not attending any political programme for more than six years after becoming the governor of the neighbouring Jharkhand. I hope all will support me.”
As news of Droupadi’s candidature for the Presidential post broke, there was celebration across the state and especially in the Mayurbhanj district, where she lives. People in large numbers and leaders across party lines came to her residence to congratulate her.
Many Santali supporters gathered outside her house with their traditional musical instruments and they sang and danced.
BJP MP from Bargarh, Suresh Pujari, said, “We are all overwhelmed over the party’s decision to make a tribal woman from here the presidential candidate. This is the first time that a daughter of the soil will get the coveted post.”
Union Tribal Affairs Minister Bishweswar Tudu said, “I am especially happy as Murmu belongs to my Lok Sabha constituency and is also of my tribal community.”
There were indications that the BJP had consulted with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik before the saffron party named Murmu for the top job and his BJD would be “supporting her” in the upcoming election.