The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which was one of the signatories in pitching former union minister Yashwant Sinha as the joint opposition candidate for the President’s post, is likely to review its decision and back NDA pick Droupadi Murmu, the first tribal who could occupy the top most constitutional post in the republic.
Besides being a tribal, Murmu, who holds the distinction of being the only Governor in Jharkhand to have completed her term of five years (went on to serve for six years), is known to have a “personal connect” with JMM supremo Shibu Soren and his family.
Asked about his party’s position, JMM working president and chief minister Hemant Soren said, “Names have just been announced. Party will decide after a meeting.”
JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said, “We still have days left for nominations. Both candidates have a Jharkhand connection, besides Murmu being a tribal. Party leaders would discuss the issue with our president Guruji (Shibu Soren) and announce the decision at an opportune time.”
Sources said the party is likely to buy time till June 26 when the results for Mandar assembly bypoll, to be held on June 23, is announced. “It won’t be surprising if she gradually becomes a consensus candidate and Sinha withdraws,” a JMM leader said, pleading anonymity.
Party insiders said that for the JMM, which wears the image of being a “for-tribal” party, it will be difficult to overlook the fact that a tribal is set to hold the top office.
Party leaders also said that the personal connect the Soren family shares with Murmu would also play a crucial role in decision making.
“Sorens have many family relationships in Mayurbhanj area where Murmu comes from. Two daughters-in-law of Shibu Soren, including the CM’s wife, come from the same area. Hemant’s sister is also married in the same area. So all these would likely weigh in favour of Murmu,” another JMM leader said.
The JMM has 30 legislators in the 81-member Jharkhand assembly. Of the 28 seats reserved for scheduled tribes in the assembly, 19 are with the JMM, seven with Congress and remaining two with the BJP.
Hemant Soren is leading the JMM-Congress-RJD government, with help of 17 legislators of Congress and the lone RJD MLA.