BJP: Ensure all votes of party for NDA's Droupadi Murmu
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Tuesday told Bengal BJP legislators that if NDA’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu didn’t get all party votes from the state, it would be a “discredit” for the BJP.
“Shekhawatji told us to ensure that all BJP legislators voted for Murmuji. He said one vote would neither make her win nor make her lose. But if she doesn’t get all BJP votes, the party will be discredited,” a BJP MLA told this correspondent and said Shekhawat’s speech hinted at a chance of cross-voting in the presidential poll.
Shekhawat was speaking at a Calcutta event where Murmu was present to seek support from BJP legislators.
His statement gains significance in the light of defections the saffron camp has suffered in the last one year. Since 2021, the count of BJP MPs has come down from 18 to 16, with Babul Supriyo and Arjun Singh defecting to Trinamul.
While the BJP had bagged 77 seats in the Assembly polls, after defections, the number is down to 70 now.
The absence of three BJP MLAs from Tuesday’s meeting became the talking point of the day. Niraj Zimba, Bishnuprasad Sharma and Mukutmani Adhikari were absent from the meeting.
Another MLA Ashok Lahiri is unwell and hence couldn’t make it to the meeting.
Among MPs, Raju Bista and Subhash Sarkar were not present. Bista had met Murmu in Siliguri on Monday.
Sources said Sarkar had communicated to the BJP leadership his inability to make it to the meeting.
Dilip Ghosh, a national vice-president of the BJP, said if cross-voting happened, it would be from the other side.
“In 2017, when Ram Nath Kovind was elected as President there were three BJP MLAs. We had the support of three Gorkha Janmukti Morcha MLAs. Yet Kovindji received 13 votes. This time also Trinamul MLAs will vote for Murmuji,” Ghosh said.
In her appeal to people’s representatives, Murmu hoped all 294 MLAs and 42 MPs from Bengal will vote for her. She finished her speech with “Joy Bangla”, a slogan used by Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls to fan Bengali sentiments.