Woman Tribal Politician to Become India's Next President?

Droupadi Murmu || Photo: Collected

Droupadi Murmu || Photo: Collected

A tribal politician in India is all set to script history next month, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) naming her as its candidate for the country's presidential polls slated for July.

The 64-year-old former teacher-turned-tribal politician, Droupadi Murmu, hailing from the eastern state of Odisha, is projected to win as President, with the BJP and its coalition partners commanding 48% of the electoral vote.

In India, the President is elected by the members of both the Houses of Parliament -- the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the Lok Sabha (Lower House) -- and of the state assemblies and federal government-ruled Union Territories.

Like in Bangladesh, the Indian President is the ceremonial head of state who does not exercise executive powers.

On Thursday, Murmu sought the cooperation of all lawmakers in India before taking a flight to Delhi this morning. "I thank all and seek cooperation from everyone for the presidential election. I'll meet all voters and seek their support before July 18."

"Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji has devoted her life to serving society and empowering the poor, downtrodden as well as the marginalized," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Wednesday.

"She has rich administrative experience and had an outstanding gubernatorial tenure. I am confident she will be a great President of our nation," Modi wrote.

But who's this humble politician?

Born on June 20 in 1958, Murmu completed her graduation in 1979 and began her career as a government employee before becoming a school teacher. 

She subsequently made a foray into Odisha politics, first as a local civic body councillor and then as a state legislator.

The two-term BJP legislator went on to become a minister in the state government in 2000. And some 15 years later, Murmu was sworn in as the first woman Governor of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

In her personal life, Murmu lost her husband and their two sons. While her husband died of a cardiac arrest, one of her two sons was found dead under mysterious circumstances in 2009. She has a daughter.

If elected, Murmu would replace incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind whose five-year term ends on July 24.

[The article was written by S Kumar - UNB Delhi Correspondent]


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