The BJP chose 64-year-old Draupadi Murmu as their pick for the upcoming Presidential election.
Her expected win as President – with the NDA commanding 48% of the electoral vote – will be a big boost to the BJP’s tribal push. It might also bolster the party’s hopes in Odisha, where it has been struggling to increase its footprint against a dominant BJD.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said in his tweets:
Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji has devoted her life to serving society and empowering the poor, downtrodden as well as the marginalised. She has rich administrative experience and had an outstanding gubernatorial tenure. I am confident she will be a great President of our nation.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 21, 2022
Millions of people, especially those who have experienced poverty and faced hardships, derive great strength from the life of Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji. Her understanding of policy matters and compassionate nature will greatly benefit our country.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 21, 2022
"After discussion with all the NDA allies we have decided to name Draupadi Murmu as the presidential candidate," BJP president JP Nadda announced on Tuesday, hours after the opposition named former party veteran Yashwant Sinha as its joint candidate for the July election. He said the consideration was also to have a woman and a tribal as candidate.
Hailing from a tribal community in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, Murmu started out as a teacher before entering state politics. With a BJP ticket, she has been elected as MLA twice in 2000 and 2009, from Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj. In 2015, Murmu was sworn in as the first woman Governor of Jharkhand and the first Odia tribal leader to be made Governor of any state.
Murmu, a grassroots politician, has many firsts to her credit.
In 2017, she failed the erstwhile BJP government’s plan to amend land tenancy acts in Jharkhand. She had returned the bills introduced to amend the Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act. Tribals of Jharkhand had aggressively opposed the erstwhile BJP government’s proposed amendments to the CNT and SPT Acts.
She was once part of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Cabinet in Odisha when Navin Patnaik formed the government with the support of the BJP. BJD’s Naveen Patnaik is backing the NDA candidate.
If elected, Murmu will be breaking a lot of barriers and creating many more firsts. She will be the first Tribal President, second-ever woman President and the President to be born in Independent India
Murmu was first considered a contender when President Pranab Mukherjee was set to leave office in 2017. However, Ramnath Kovind made the cut instead.
Having been born into a tribal family that was battling with poverty in one of the country's most remote and underdeveloped districts, her childhood had been full of challenges. Murmu was married to Shyam Charan Murmu. The couple had two sons and a daughter. She experienced the loss of both her husbands and her two sons.
Overcoming all odds, she earned her Bachelor's degree in Arts from Ramadevi Women's College in Bhubaneswar. Before entering politics, she served as an honourary assistant professor in the Shri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research, Rairangpur. Later, she was appointed as a junior assistant in the irrigation and power department in the Odisha government.
During the Bharatiya Janata Party and Biju Janata Dal coalition government in Odisha, she was the Minister of State with independent charge for Commerce and Transport from March 6, 2000 to August 6, 2002 and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development from August 6, 2002 to May 16, 2004. She was former Odisha Minister and an MLA from Rairangpur assembly constituency in the years 2000 and 2004.
She served as an MLA in the Odisha Legislative Assembly twice. She served as Minister of State. In 2007, she was bestowed the Nilakantha Award for Best MLA by the Odisha Legislative Assembly. She has served as the National Executive Member and State President of the BJP’s ST Morcha.
She won in 2009, even as the BJP paled against the estranged BJD. Before she became an MLA, Murmu joined the BJP in 1997 and was elected as a councilor in the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat.
Murmu is likely to file her nomination for the upcoming presidential election on June 25. The voting for the Presidential poll is scheduled to be held on July 18 and counting to be held on July 21.