Draupadi Murmu’s nomination a matter of pride for SCs, STs, EBCs: Jitan Ram Manjhi (IANS Interview)


Former Bihar Chief Minister and President of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) Jitan Ram Manjhi has said that the NDA selecting Draupadi Murmu as its Presidential candidate was a matter of pride for the Scheduled castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) of the society.

In an exclusive interview to IANS, Manjhi said Murmu’s win is certain and she will win the elections easily.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. What are the reasons for supporting Draupadi Murmu for the President’s post?

A: This is an electoral process where NDA has selected Draupadi Murmu as a candidate for the presidential election. NDA in the past had selected Ram Nath Kovind, who belongs to Scheduled Caste. During the tenure of Late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee, APJ Abdul Kalam was selected as the NDA candidate for the presidential election.

The candidates are declared sometime within the party and sometimes outside. When the NDA selected Draupadi Murmu Ji, it was a great happiness among us who belong to the Dalit, Backward Class and the tribal communities. In the 75-year history of our country, this is the first time when a woman from the tribal community has been selected for the top post of the country. This a pride moment for the Scheduled Caste (SC) Scheduled Tribes (ST), Extreme Backward Caste (EBC) people.

I firmly believe, every person should be given a chance to be elected to the top post of the country. In the past, leaders of SC and ST were given lesser evaluations for the higher posts. Now the situation has changed for the past some years with the leaders of Backward Class are being selected. We thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the selection of Draupadi Murmu Ji as a presidential candidate. We are 102 per cent sure that she will win the contest.

Q: What is your opinion of Yashwant Sinha?

A: As far as Yashwant Sinha is concerned, he is also a good candidate having loads of experience and he also served as a Union minister. But the caste equation of the country is such that he is not turning out to be an ideal candidate for the presidential poll. On the other hand, Draupadi Murmu Ji comes from Santhal tribal family and this community has not been given any representation in the country. Now, the people of this community have been given an opportunity for the top post. Hence, I am hopeful that every leader and party will keep this in mind on the day of polling and elect her for the post of president.

Q. What is the status of the coordination committee in Bihar NDA?

A: When a coalition government is there in any state, we have seen some differences dur crop up among ruling parties which creates hurdles sometimes in reaching a consensus on one issue or one policy.

In Bihar, differences of opinion on some issues due happen in the NDA too, but the decision is always unanimous at the end of the day. Differences of opinion is a healthy sign in a democracy. We believe that differences of opinion is healthy, but discrimination among leaders of coalition partners is not a good sign. If a coalition government runs on condition with one party always threatening to get its job done or always threatening to pull out then it is not a good sign. Such a practice would only help the opposition parties. The people of Bihar have been given the mandate to run the government till 2025. Nitish Kumar will remain as chief minister of Bihar and he will complete his tenure. The Bihar NDA is intact and there is no doubt about it. If we have a co-ordination committee, it would help to make consensus and the government would run in the most smooth manner.

Q: Are you happy with the current government, as you have demanded one MLC seat twice but they (JD-U and BJP) refused?

A: In family, it is our right to demand more posts. It is up to them to give or not. Our party Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) has 4 MLAs and the state government has given one cabinet minister post. It is a satisfactory share for our party in the state government. Whenever we have an opportunity, we demand for an MLC post or Rajya Sabha seat.

Q: Are smaller parties safe in Bihar?

A: Merger of smaller parties into bigger parties is part of the politics. There have been several incidents in the country where smaller parties merged into bigger parties. Maharashtra is a prime example of it. In Bihar, we have seen the same thing, which is not surprising. Everyone looks for the opportunity to grab individual law makers of smaller parties. Smaller parties also look to apply pressure on the government. The smaller parties exist in Bihar and it has importance in the current politics.

The existence of the smaller parties also depends on the status of their leaders and their popularity among the voters. The bigger parties also keep in mind how influential they are during elections. Those parties having no representation in Legislative Assembly or Council also have importance as they might influence the voters and perform well in the next election.



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