Droupadi Murmu: The woman set to be India’s first tribal president

Droupadi Murmu, a tribal politician, is the frontrunner in India’s presidential election being held on Monday.

The candidate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the 64-year-old former teacher comes from Odisha (Orissa) state and has had a stint as a state governor.

If elected, she would be the country’s first tribal leader in the top post.

The president in India is the head of the state, but does not exercise executive powers.

He or she is elected by the members of both the houses of parliament and of the legislative assemblies of states and federally-administered union territories.

Analysts say the BJP has enough numbers to ensure its nominee’s success.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he is “confident” that she will make a “great president”.

Announcing her nomination last month, BJP president JP Nadda said Ms Murmu was chosen after a detailed discussion of 20 names that the party and its allies had considered.

Ms Murmu said she learnt about her nomination from television and 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 from all parties in Odisha welcomed her nomination, describing her as a “daughter of the soil”. Ms Murmu said she was “optimistic” about getting support from all the elected lawmakers in the state.

Party colleague in the state, Kabi Vishnu Satpathy, who has known her since the 1980s, describes her as a “straightforward and simple” person.

“A compassionate woman, she’s good at heart, with no arrogance, no airs. She doesn’t show off, mixes freely with people and is humble and down-to-earth. As a politician, she knew how to take people along.”

In the elections, Ms Murmu is pitted against the opposition’s candidate – veteran politician and former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha. A senior minister in the BJP government led by then prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee in the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr Sinha is now a vocal critic of the party and Mr Modi.(BBC)

Droupadi Murmu with Prime Minister Narendra Modi
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