India’s 15th President, Draupadi Murmu, breaks all ceilings with election victory

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Draupadi Murmu. Photo: Twitter @BJP4Telangana

July 21, 2022, will go down as one of the most momentous days in India’s 75-year history when a woman belonging to an indigenous tribe was elected President of the country.

Draupadi Murmu (also spelled Droupadi), 64, is the second woman to hold the title of President. But she has broken virtually all ceilings to become the first one hailing from the Santhal tribe in Jharkhand state. She begins her term July 25 for a five-year term.

Murmu, a teacher-turned-politician, was chosen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party as the candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) currently in power, and faced off against the Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha.

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Congratulatory messages poured in from all corners for the President-elect, some saying they had made her their “profile picture” on social media.

“A daughter of India hailing from a tribal community born in a remote part of eastern India has been elected our President!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

Draupadi Murmu, 15th President of India, being greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi July 21, 2022. Photo: Twitter @narendramodi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and NCP leader Sharad Pawar were among the opposition leaders who congratulated Murmu, ANI reported.

“I send my congratulations and best wishes to the President-elect Smt. Droupadi Murmu. I look forward to meeting her soon as well,” Sonia Gandhi said in a message. Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Congratulations and best wishes to Droupadi Murmu ji on being elected as the 15th President of India.”

Banerjee said, “I would like to congratulate President-elect Droupadi Murmu. The country will sincerely look up to you as the Head of State to protect the ideals of our Constitution and be the custodian of our democracy, especially when the nation is plagued with so many dissensions.”

A BJP supporter named KhushbuSundar @khushsundar tweeted, “#NewProfilePic it’s worth having the First lady of the Nation as my DP. #CongratulationsMadam.” He posted Murmu’s picture on his profile page.

President-elect Draupadi Murmu’s picture from a fan who made it his profile photo on social media. Photo: Twitter @Khushsundar

Over the decades, the ruling parties have used this position to make a statement not just to their own citizens, but also the world, of a democracy that seeks to represent all its constituents, including the various regions of India.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price July 21, 2022 Tweet on the election of India’s 15th President Draupadi Murmu. Photo: Twitter State Department

In line with that, Murmu brings an hitherto unrepresented section of the nation’s communities, the various tribes that make up the multi-cultural fabric of India.

According to results reported by ANI quoting official sources, of the votes cast by 4,809 Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies countrywide, Murmu received 2,824 votes, valued at representing 6,76,803, while her opponent Yashwant Sinha secured 1,877 votes with a value 3,80,177.

The polling took place on July 18.

The Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha and the Returning Officer for Presidential Election 2022, P.C .Mody handed over the certificate to President-elect Droupadi Murmu at her residence in Delhi.
“Presidential Election concluded with declaration of result…4754 votes polled, out of which 4701 valid & 53 invalid…The quota (for a candidate to be elected the President) was 5,28,491. #DroupadiMurmu secured 2824 first preference votes-value of which is 6,76,803,” Mody is quoted saying in an ANI report.

“1,877 first preference votes were secured by Yashwant Sinha – value 3,80,177. As 1st preference votes secured by #DroupadiMurmu were greater than the requisite quota, I in my capacity as Returning Officer declare that she has been elected to office of President of India,” he added, words of seminal importance, on the 75th year of India’s independence.

Soon after the completion of the third round of counting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president J.P. Nadda met Murmu at her residence in New Delhi and extended greetings for her victory.

Draupadi Murmu, 15th President of India. Photo Twitter @Draupadimurmum

Murmu’s victory, which was assured since her nomination, could secure an important constituency for the BJP as the 2024 general elections draw near.

Born on June 20, 1958, in Uparbeda, Mayurbhanj, Odisha, to a family of the Santhal tribe, Murmu’s father and grandfather had served as village heads under the Panchayati Raj system, reports the news outlet Jagranjosh. Politics was in her blood, and Murmu was always active in local community issues.

She graduated from Ramadevi Women’s University, to begin a career as a school teacher, then teaching as an assistant professor at Shri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research Institute in Rairangpur. She also served in the Irrigation Department of the state government.

She married Shyam Charan Murmu, a banker who died in 2014. Two of the couple’s sons passed away. Murmu has a daughter Itishri Murmu. How Murmu coped with the devastating loss of her two grown sons followed by that of her husband, is proof of the President-elect’s strength of personality.

A grassroots leader, Murmu joined the BJP in 1997, and was elected as the councillor of the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat. In three years, she showed her political chops becoming the chairperson of Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 2000, and as the National Vice-President of BJP Scheduled Tribes Morcha.

In 2015, Murmu was sworn in as Governor of Jharkhand becoming the first woman governor of that state, and first woman from an indigenous tribe in Odisha to be appointed governor of an Indian state, Jagranjosh notes.

She held several state ministerial positions during BJP coalition governments in Odisha – Minister of State with Independent Charge for Commerce and Transportation; Minister of Fisheries and Animal Resources Development, and in 2004, she became an MLA representing the Rairangpur Assembly Constituency.

When she was nominated by the National Democratic Alliance this June 2022 for the Presidency, Murmu traveled around the country to meet state legislators to familiarize them with candidacy and seek their support. “

“Her election is seen as the BJP’s outreach to India’s tribal communities, which comprise more than 8% of its 1.4 billion people,” a Reuters report noted.

Murmu takes over from incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind, to become the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and while she has a mainly ceremonial role, she does take on a critical role when an election is inconclusive by deciding which party can form government.

(Sources: ANI, Reuters,Twitter, Jagranjosh.com)

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