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India

Draupadi Murmu Vs Yashwant Sinha: United By Jharkhand & Presidential Ambitions, Divided By Political Camps

While Sinha was the Member of Parliament from Hazaribagh from 1998 to 2014, Murmu has served as the ninth governor of Jharkhand from 2015 to 2021.

Yashwant Sinha Draupadi Murmu
Opposition Presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha and NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu. (Image: ANI)

New Delhi: The ruling NDA on Tuesday named Draupadi Murmu its presidential candidate, hours after the Opposition unanimously announced former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha as its nominee, and the commonalities between the two leaders are notable. Murmu and Sinha, both have a strong Jharkhand connect.

While Sinha was the Member of Parliament from Hazaribagh from 1998 to 2014, Murmu has served as the ninth governor of Jharkhand from 2015 to 2021.

Born in undivided Bihar, Yashwant Sinha was a Bihar-cadre IAS officer till 1984, after which he began his political career as he joined the Janata Party. He was also appointed the principal secretary to the then Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur, a socialist stalwart. In years to follow, Sinha served as the party general secretary and also became a Rajya Sabha member in 1988. He served as the Minister of Finance from November 1990 to June 1991 in Chandra Shekhar’s Cabinet.

Sinha later joined the BJP, influenced by LK Advani, and two came to share a good bond. He was made the leader of opposition in Bihar, and later won Lok Sabha poll from Hazaribagh in 1998, 1999, and 2009. He was the Finance Minister till 2002 and then made External Affairs Minister.

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Meanwhile, Draupadi Murmu, who comes from Mayurbhanj in Odisha, has served as the first female governor of Jharkhand. Draupadi belongs to a Santhal tribal family of Uparbeda village in Kusumi block. The Santhals or Santals are the largest tribe in the state of Jharkhand. When the state of Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in 2000, the Santal Parganas was made a separate division of the state.

Murmu has been a prominent and vocal tribal leader. In 1997, she was elected councilor in the Rajrangpur district of Odisha and also became the vice-president of the Scheduled Tribes Morcha of the Odisha unit of the BJP. With this background, she is likely to gain the backing of several non-NDA regional parties and even the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, which is in the Opposition in the state but identifies with the cause of tribals.

Yashwant Sinha has been an eminent leader in nearly four-decade-old political life and is known for his bureaucratic efficiency. Once closely associated with saffron stalwart L K Advani, his unflinching critique of party leaders, including Nitin Gadkari and later Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pushed him to the margins of the party.

While Murmu rose through the ranks over the years, Sinha faced resentment within the party for not being a staunch saffron leader.

Yashwant Sinha’s firm criticism of the Modi government’s policies and politics secured him a space in the Opposition camp which has now chosen him as its joint candidate for the presidential election. Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA has placed its trust in Draupadi Murmu, known for taking decisions, keeping the larger picture and political message in mind.