In a fresh setback to the campaign for Opposition’s Presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar announced his party’s support for NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu for the July 18 polls. The development marks yet another dent in the Opposition’s hopes of putting up a united fight against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
The Rajbhar-led SBSP, which has six MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly, had joined ranks with the Opposition in 2019 after a long association with the BJP. Rajbhar’s announcement, just three days ahead of the Presidential elections, adds to the string of Congress allies who have broken ranks with the Opposition to pledge support to the NDA nominee, who is set to become the first tribal woman to occupy the post of President of India.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who still commands the support of 15 Shiv Sena MLAs and a lesser number of party MPs, has also announced his support to Murmu. Chief Minister Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is another prominent Opposition party to have pledged its support for the NDA candidate.
The NDA’s decision to field Murmu has left even anti-BJP parties in a fix, scrambling to find any valid reason to oppose the tribal woman leader. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest an overwhelming majority for the NDA-backed candidate, with close to two-thirds of the electoral college, having already pledged its support in her favour.
The election to choose the new President of India is scheduled to be held on Monday, July 18, and the counting of votes will be taken up on July 21. The tenure of President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 24, which is when the new President of India is expected to take charge.