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Why So Many BJP Rivals Openly Or Tacitly Backed Murmu And Dhankhar

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is in an alliance government with the Congress in Jharkhand. The state has a high Scheduled Tribes population, where Droupadi Murmu had also been governor between 2015 and 2021. Do recall that JMM has been in alliance with BJP in the past, and some bonhomie was visible between the two camps when Prime Minister Modi visited to inaugurate the Deoghar airport. However, once the presidential election was out of the way, recent allegations by Congress members following cash seizure from some party MLAs that the BJP was attempting to destabilise the state government may have irked Soren as well, as he decided to support Alva for vice president.

Understanding Mamata Banerjee’s Head-Turner

Mamata Banerjee’s decision to have the Trinamool Congress abstain from voting in the vice presidential election was the most surprising stance among regional parties.

For years, she has shared an edgy relationship with Dhankhar during the latter’s tenure as governor of West Bengal. Banerjee also became the torchbearer of opposition unity in the presidential election, offering up party leader Yashwant Sinha as the common candidate. Given both factors, her decision came as a shocker to the opposition camp. But she had other considerations to weigh.

The Trinamool chief has openly conveyed national ambitions, expanding the party’s footprint beyond Bengal. With such a plan in mind, she may not want to antagonise a politically powerful community that often determines electoral outcomes in Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Delhi.

The Trinamool is competing with Congress to occupy the principal opposition party space and may not have wanted to play second fiddle to the grand old party by backing its vice presidential candidate. In the recent past, Congress leaders from the North East, Goa and Haryana have switched sides to the Trinamool Congress.

The sceptre of central investigative agencies hangs over this decision as well, with Mamata Banerjee’s nephew being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

Moreover, Mamata Banerjee openly opposing a VP candidate who until just days earlier had been governor of West Bengal would have come across as poor optics after the way Jharkhand Chief Minister Soren decided to support former Jharkhand Governor Murmu.

Was a peace pact struck days before Dhankhar’s candidate was announced, when Banerjee and Dhankhar were seen exchanging cordial greetings in Darjeeling, along with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma?

Banerjee didn’t need to go all-in for Dhankhar to convey a conciliatory note but merely abstain from voting, which is what Trinamool Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs (save one) did.

With changed power dynamics over the last quarter century, most of these have spent also time opposing the BJP. Now it appears that specific regional political considerations, centre-state dynamics, intra-party power equations, and avoiding the wrath of central investigative agencies have promoted some of these regional leaders to tacitly back the BJP’s candidates for high offices.

Amitabh Tiwari is a political commentator, strategist, and consultant advising political parties and leaders. He was previously a corporate and investment banker.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BQ Prime or its editorial team.

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