The party fears that some of its MLAs could vote for Droupadi Murmu.


New Delhi: Ahead of the presidential election on 18 July, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), apprehending cross-voting by some of its MLAs, is not taking any chances and has started to call all its MLAs to Kolkata. They are being strictly told to report to the party headquarters before the election.
According to sources in the TMC, senior leaders like Firhad Hakim, Partha Chatterjee and Subrata Bakshi have been entrusted to keep the flock together and ensure that all the MLAs vote for the joint Opposition candidate, Yashwant Sinha.
These senior leaders have been given charge of zones to call the TMC MLAs and instruct them to report to Kolkata on or before 17 July, from where all the MLAs would be taken to the Assembly to vote for Sinha.
Sources in the TMC claim that the party leadership fears that some of the MLAs, especially those representing the tribal communities, could vote in favour of NDA’s presidential candidate, Droupadi Murmu, as not voting for Murmu could create trouble for these MLAs in their respective constituencies.
Unlike voting for bills in the Assemblies, parties cannot issue whips during the presidential election as the polls are conducted through a secret ballot and the party cannot find out which of their leaders has cross-voted. “We have credible information that some of our MLAs have decided to vote for the NDA candidate, and if that happens, it would not look good on the party and, therefore, our top leadership has entrusted some of the trusted lieutenants of the TMC to ensure that all their MLAs vote for Yashwant Sinha,” a source from TMC, aware of this development, told The Sunday Guardian.
Yashwant Sinha was fielded by the TMC as a consensus and joint Opposition candidate and, therefore, the party is worried that its own MLAs will embarrass it by not supporting the TMC-backed candidate. Sinha was also a member of the TMC before he resigned and was made the presidential candidate by the Opposition members.
Sources from the TMC say that according to them, some of their MLAs from North Bengal and some MLAs from the tribal belt of Jhargram, Bankura and other adjoining districts will bend towards Droupadi Murmu since she belongs to the Santhal community and these MLAs represent a large chunk of the tribal voters in Bengal.
It is also pertinent to mention here that Bengal has a large population of Santhals, especially in the Junglemahal area, which in 2019 had given a thumping victory to the BJP, but in the 2021 Assembly elections shifted their loyalties to the TMC-led Mamata Banerjee government.
Sources from the BJP told this correspondent that their party has asked its MPs such as Jyotirmoy Singh Mahato and Khagen Murmu to ensure that some of the TMC MLAs representing the Santhal community vote for Droupadi Murmu
A TMC MLA from the Junglemahal area told The Sunday Guardian that they were in a “Catch-22” situation, as they were not being able to make up their minds as to whom they should cast their vote for during the presidential election. “Some of the MLAs like me who come from the Santhal community are still confused about who we vote should for. While on the one hand, we have a tribal lady from our community, but on the other we have the party line. But if we ditch our community member, voters will ditch us the next time. We are yet to make up our mind,” the TMC MLA said.
Earlier, even TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had said that had the BJP discussed putting up Droupadi Murmu as the presidential candidate, her party could have supported her. She had made this calculated statement as she did not want to be seen as someone who would not support a tribal leader as Murmu’s tribe holds sway over at least 20 Assembly constituencies in Bengal. Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha has not gone to Bengal to campaign for his presidential election.