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Analysis | ‘Brother-sister’ narrative at core of BJD’s plan to appropriate Droupadi Murmu’s victory

Draupadi Murmu and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik exchange greetings in Bhubaneswar. File photo

Draupadi Murmu and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik exchange greetings in Bhubaneswar. File photo | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

The bonhomie between Biju Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party over the presidential election has ended following the elevation of Droupadi Murmu to the highest office in India and the estranged allies are ready to slog it out for cornering political space in Odisha.

It seems the regional party has pre-empted by deliberately pushing the narrative of ‘brother-sister’ relationship between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the President-elect to usurp the electoral advantage the BJP was hoping to reap in tribal pockets by showcasing victory of Ms. Murmu.

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Moments after National Democratic Alliance candidate Ms. Murmu registered a thumping victory, BJD’s Lok Sabha member, Pinaki Misra put out a message on social media, saying, “ Bhai rakhila Rakhi ra mana. Bhauni alankruta kale Rastrapati asana. (The brother has kept the honour of Rakhi. The sister adorned the President’s throne.)”

The BJD MP was trying to send a subtle message that it was Odisha CM, who put his political weight behind candidature of Ms. Murmu, and ensured whole-hearted support for the Ms. Murmu.

Watch | Who is Droupadi Murmu?

Another video purportedly made by BJD shows the clip of Ms, Murmu, who mentioned about her tying Rakhi in hand of Mr. Patnaik, during presidential election campaign in the State.

The video harped on the message, “as a sister, she tied Rakhi and she occupied the highest office by getting backing from brother. Sister receives appropriate gift before being demand for it. This is story of President and Chief Minister ”

Rairangpur to Raisina

“Naveen had blessed her journey from Rairangpur to Raisina — be it discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi about her candidature or mobilizing support. Naveen had taken pledge to ensure sister’s victory. By staying above politics, he (Naveen) campaigned for the march to Raisina of daughter of soil. The whole country witnessed the glimpse of Naveen’s women empowerment effort. Which brother would not want sister to become President for which Naveen gave the first support,” the video release said.

As the result of presidential election was foregone conclusion, entire Odisha had entered into a celebratory mode before counting commenced on Thursday. But, BJD leaders across the State were seen attributing the victory of Ms Murmu to efforts of Mr. Patnaik who, they said, worked tirelessly for ‘Mission Raisina’.

Celebrations in Mayurbhanj

On Thursday, Baripada – the district headquarter town of tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj – was flooded with hoardings which had image of Ms. Murmu tying Rakhi to Mr. Patnaik.

Ms. Murmu hails from Mayurbhanj district where BJP had won six out of nine assembly seats — the highest strike rate for the saffron party in any district in Odisha — in 2019 Assembly and General election. Mayurbhanj MP Bishweswar Tudu is a Central Minister.  In 2017 Zilla Parishad elections, the BJP had won 49 out of 56 Zilla Parishad seats in the district.

However, Mr. Patnaik-led BJD wrested control over the district by winning 50 zilla parishad seats and BJP failed to win a single seat in 2022 elections.

Sensing that the BJP could claw back from electoral debacle in Mayurbhanj and for that matter in other tribal pockets by showcasing Ms Murmu’s victory, the five-time CM had carefully planned his moves.

Soon after declaration of candidature of Ms. Murmu, Mr Patnaik, who was then in Italy, did not waste any time putting out a Tweet saying, “Congratulations Smt #DraupadiMurmu on being announced as candidate of NDA for the country’s highest office. I was delighted when Hon’ble PM @narendramodi ji discussed this with me. It is indeed a proud moment for people of #Odisha.”

The BJD supremo had given an impression that he was taken into confidence before Ms Murmu’s name was finalized. In the subsequent tweet, he appealed all the members of Odisha Legislative Assembly, cutting across party lines, to extend unanimous support to elect the daughter of Odisha to the country’s highest office.

Though he was not part of NDA, he had sent party MLAs to elicit support for Ms Murmu in State Congress. It was a well-crafted move to appropriate nomination of a tribal woman for the top constitutional post.

“The BJD had its reasons to be worried over Ms Murmu’s victory. The regional party has been banking on women and tribal for its electoral success. In one stroke (by nominating Ms Murmu), BJP could have weakened BJD’s vote base,” said Rabi Dash, a veteran political commentator.

During presidential election, the party’s grassroot-level leaders also delivered the message among masses that Mr. Modi trusted Mr. Patnaik the most and he went ahead with Ms Murmu’s candidature after getting green signal from the BJD chief.

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Printable version | Jul 22, 2022 3:02:50 pm |