Names of Dr. Sudha Murty, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nirmala Sitharaman, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Arif Mohammad Khan doing the rounds
New Delhi: By July 24, India has to elect a new President. In October last year, President Ram Nath Kovind (whose five-year term ends in July 2022) turned 76. If the BJP applies PM Narendra Modi’s “no appointment to a public office after 75 years” formula, it can be safely said that the party is currently hunting for a new man or woman to occupy Rashtrapathi Bhavan.
Amid all the speculations and names doing the rounds for its Presidential nominee, the BJP may nominate a candidate either belonging to the Other Backward Class (OBC) or a woman to win their support in the run-up to the 2024 general elections. The OBC and women are the largest constituents of the country’s population.
The names doing the rounds are current Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, former Infosys Foundation Chairperson Dr. Sudha Murty, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
During the last Presidential elections, the BJP had given a chance to Dalits and OBC and this time, speculations are rife that either a woman or a candidate from minority community will be chosen for India’s highest post.
Prominent among the names to the post of President is of Dr. Sudha Murty. A woman face, her candidature is expected to be popular thanks to her many philanthropic initiatives as the Infosys Foundation Chairperson. It may be mentioned here that during the last Presidential election, the name of Sudha Murty’s husband and Infosys Founder N.R. Narayana Murthy was doing the rounds. However, that did not materialise.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, who has garnered national attention by constantly conflicting with the Pinarayi government, will contest for the post of Vice-President. The BJP is likely to project Arif Mohammad Khan as a minority face. Arif Mohammad Khan is a leader who can embrace the Hindutva stance of the BJP.
Other names are of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Nirmala Sitharaman. Azad has maintained a distance from Congress, his parent party, he is drawing closer to the BJP. Nirmala Sitharaman is a prominent women face in the Rajya Sabha and she is likely to be elected as Vice-President, knowing she can very well handle the proceedings of Rajya Sabha as the House Chairperson.
Party insiders said that among all the social equations, a Presidential candidate from the SC community is unlikely as current President Ram Nath Kovind belongs to the community. “It is most unlikely that a leader from the SC community will be given a chance this time. Among all, the OBC and women are most preferred right now for Presidential candidate,” they said.
Notably, the OBCs are a major force in all the States. In the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, despite the exit of some OBC leaders from the party, BJP received overwhelming support from the community.
Both women and OBC are independently the largest chunk of voters in the country. The party will either woo them individually or together by nominating an OBC woman candidate for the post, party insiders added.