Welcome Madam President: Draupadi Murmu Elected India’s 15th President!

Draupadi Murmu, a tribal BJP leader from the state of Odisha, has been elected as the 15th President of India after she had secured more than 51% of the votes in the third round of counting that started today morning. Even as more rounds of counting still remain the final election announcement becomes a mere formality. Draupadi Murmu belongs to the Santhal tribe of India and thus becomes the first ever Scheduled Tribe person to become the President of India. And she is only the second woman President of the country after Pratibha Patil, the 12th President during 2007-2012. Madam Murmu was born on 20th June, 1958 in a village of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. Both her father and her grandfather were village headmen (Sarpanch), and so in a way, she’d been associated with public life from her childhood. She had served in the profession of teaching and initially also worked as a clerk in the state irrigation department. In her personal life she had to face a series of tragedies—losing her husband in 2014, then both her sons and a brother in a span of four years. Madam Murmu then sought spiritual solace by joining the Brahma Kumaris and her daughter for family.


Draupadi Murmu joined the BJP in 1997 and served two terms as a minister in the state cabinet of Odisha when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was having a coalition government with the BJP in the state. In 2015 she was appointed the Governor of Jharkhand, an eastern state of India with a major chunk of tribal population and she was the first ever lady Governor of the state. As the outgoing President of India Ram Nath Kovind was to complete his term this year, the BJP nominated Madam Murmu as the Presidential candidate for their ruling National Democratic Alliance. The announcement was strategically a masterstroke as no political party in India in the right frame of mind could afford to reject or vote against a woman tribal candidate. The move thus divided the opposition ranks effectively and ensured a landslide for Draupadi Murmu with the combined opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, a former BJP stalwart and now a TMC leader, left only watching from the sidelines.  


Celebrations all across the country are in full swing, with a rich unfolding of the Santali and other tribal folk dances, distribution of sweets and bursting of crackers. Particularly for Odisha, a very joyous occasion indeed with the first ever person from the state becoming the country’s President. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already visited the Delhi residence of Draupadi Murmu and officially congratulated her. There’s been a lot of speculation and debates going on in the Indian media about the ruling alliance’s political masterstroke and if the new President is in fact going to be just a rubber stamp. All such politicking should be left out at this historic moment as the first ever tribal lady of the country is going to be sworn in as the 15th President of India. No doubt, Draupadi Murmu will have many challenges waiting for her in a country where the tribal inhabitants are still looked down upon and the atrocities on them and on the tribal women still being daily occurrences in various parts of the country. We extend our best wishes for the First Lady (not as the President’s wife, but as the President herself) and wish her a very successful five-year career.


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