By nominating Karia Munda (72), a tribal leader, as its nominee for Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker, the BJP may have sought to match the Congress’ decision to name Meira Kumar, a Dalit, as Speaker.
But Munda’s nomination is also being seen as an acknowledgement by the party that a tribal leader from the Jan Sangh days had not got his due till now.
Though a contemporary to Jaswant Singh, M.M. Joshi and Yashwant Sinha, the soft-spoken Munda always felt he was denied the chance of becoming Jharkhand’s first chief minister when the state was carved out of Bihar in 2000.
Ignoring his supporters, the BJP chose a younger Babulal Marandi to head the first government. Later, it handed the reins to Arjun Munda because being good or experienced was not enough to manage assembly arithmetic in a politically volatile state.
Though the then PM A.B. Vajpayee did induct Munda into the Union Cabinet in 2001, his role in Jharkhand politics wasn’t optimal despite his clean image.
Born in a farm family, Munda has a masters degree. He was also part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh fold. He started his political career as an MLA in the Bihar assembly. Since then, he has never changed his constituency Khunti, from where he has been elected six times to the Lok Sabha.
Munda takes interest in farming. In Khunti, he is accessible to all BJP workers. He is also particular that nobody misuses his name. He eve keeps even his letterhead out of bounds.