India celebrates as first Tribal takes office as President

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Droupadi Murmu will take oath of office tomorrow, July 25, 2022

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Droupadi Murmu on her election as President (PMO Photo)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, July 24, 2022

India will mark another important chapter in its impressive history as Droupadi Murmu takes oath of office as the 15th President of the Republic tomorrow- Monday, July 25, 2022.

She will succeed Ram Kanth Kovind who was the 14th President from July 25, 2017.

Ms Murmu will be the first person from India’s tribal community and the second woman to occupy the gubernatorial post since India became a Republic on January 26, 1950. She is also the youngest President of the country, born after India obtained independence (August 15, 1947). She brings to the highest office of the land rich experience in politics and as the Governor of Uttarakhand.

At the elections held last week, she defeated former External Affairs and Finance Minister under the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) regime with a comfortable margin. She polled 2824 individual votes and 676,803 Electoral College Votes (comprising Members of both Houses of Parliament and Members of State Assemblies and Councils), accounting for 60.03%,  while Mr Sinha received 1877 individual votes and 380,177 Electoral College Votes (35.97%).

They were respectively supported by the BJP-dominated National Democratic Alliance and the United Opposition.

In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India has scripted history.

“At a time when 1.3 billion Indians are marking Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (Grand Festival of Freedom), a daughter of India hailing from a tribal community born in a remote part of Eastern India has been elected our President! Her life, early struggles, rich service and exemplary success motivate every Indian. She has emerged as a ray of hope for our citizens, especially the poor, marginalised and the downtrodden,” he said.

Mr Modi described Ms Murmu as an outstanding Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and Minister. “She had an excellent tenure as Jharkhand Governor. I am certain that she will be an outstanding President who will lead from the front and strengthen India’s development journey. I would like to thank all those MPs and MLAs across party lines who have supported her candidature. Her record victory augurs well for our democracy,” he said.

India’s President-Elect Droupadi Murmu with her tribal people in Delhi on July 23, 2022 (Photo by Pallav Paliwal)












Modest beginning

Sixty-four-year-old Droupadi Murmu was born on June 20, 1958, to a Santali family in the Baidaposi area of Rairangpur, Odisha (formerly called Orissa). Her father and grandfather were traditional Heads of the Village Council. She graduated in Arts from the Rama Devi Women’s College (now deemed University) based in the State Capital Bhubaneswar.

She married a banker and had two sons and a daughter. Her husband, two sons and a brother all died in a span of six years between 2009 and 2015. She is a follower of the Brahmakumaris.

Ms Murmu worked as a Junior Assistant at the Irrigation Department of the Odisha government, and later as a Hindi, Odia, Mathematics and Geography teacher at Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre (Rairangpur).

Entry into Politics

Entering politics, she joined the BJP in Rairangpur and was elected as the Councillor of the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997. Three years later (2000), she was elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly from the Rairangpur Assembly and served two terms. She was appointed Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce and Transportation during the BJP Coalition government in Odisha. Later, she was appointed Minister for Fisheries and Resources Development (2004). She lost the Lok Sabha election from Mayurbhanj Constituency in 2009 since the BJP-BJD alliance had ended.

She was appointed as the Ninth Governor of Jharkhand in 2015 and remained as the Head of that State until 2021.

BBC Reported that Ms Murmu was chosen as the Presidential candidate after a detailed discussion of 20 names that the BJP and its allies had considered.

She said that she learnt about her nomination from television and that the news had ‘surprised’ and ‘delighted’ her.

“As a tribal woman from remote Mayurbhanj district, I had not thought about becoming the candidate for the top post,” she told reporters after learning of her nomination.

“Political leaders in Odisha had welcomed her nomination, describing her as a ‘daughter of the soil.’ Party colleague in the state, Kabi Vishnu Satpathy, who has known her since the 1980s, described her as a ‘straightforward and simple’ person. “A compassionate woman, she is good at heart, with no arrogance, no airs. She does not show off, mixes freely with people and is humble and down-to-earth. As a politician, she knew how to take people along.”

Next month, Indian lawmakers will also vote to elect the country’s Vice-President.

The BJP has announced that Jagdeep Dhankar, a senior leader who is currently Governor of West Bengal State as its candidate. The opposition is fielding Margaret Alva, a Congress veteran who has been a Federal Minister several times.

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