BJP-led NDA on Tuesday surprised the nation when it announced former Governor of Jharkhand Draupadi Murmu`s name as a Presidential candidate for the upcoming elections. The name was announced after a BJP Parliamentary Board meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi. BJP chief JP Nadda announced the presidential candidate’s name at the press conference.
Draupadi Murmu’s name was also making rounds for the President post in the year 2017 – when she was the governor of Jharkhand. Murmu’s illustrious career in politics spans over 2 decades. The former Odisha minister is the daughter of the late Biranchi Narayan Tudu. Draupadi Murmu was awarded the best MLA of the year by the Odisha Legislative Assembly.
Now, she may well be on her way to notch up another first if elected president — a strong possibility as numbers are stacked in favor of the NDA. Once elected, she will be the first tribal President of India and the second-ever female President.
She is the first major Presidential candidate from Odisha and once elected will become the first President of the country from the state of Odisha. The late date for filing nominations for the Presidential election is June 29, the polling will take place on July 18 and the votes will be counted on July 21.
While the NDA seems to have made a major political statement with its choice to focus on tribal communities, Murmu is a seasoned tribal leader from the Santal ethnic group. The Santals are the largest tribe in Jharkhand and are also present in Assam, Tripura, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and West Bengal.
Who is Draupadi Murmu?
Born on June 20, 1958, in Baidaposi village of Mayurbhanj district, Murmu began her political career in 1997 as a councilor and vice-chairperson of the Rairangpur civic body. In the same year, she was appointed the vice-president of the Odisha BJP’s ST morcha.
In 2000, she became the MLA of Rairangpur when the BJP and Biju Janata Dal formed a coalition government. She was the minister of state (independent charge) for Odisha’s department of transport and commerce from 2000 to 2004, and also assumed charge of the state’s animal husbandry department from 2002 to 2004, and the fisheries department in 2002.
Coming from a humble background, Murmu rose through political ranks battling poverty and personal tragedies in one of the most remote and underdeveloped districts of the country. But her zeal to serve society trumped and she completed her education with a BA from Ramadevi Women’s College in Bhubaneshwar.
Her rich political and administrative experience is reflected in the positions she held with the saffron party. From 2002-2009, she was a national executive member of the BJP’s ST morcha. Once again, in 2004, she became the Rairangpur MLA and then was appointed the state president of the BJP’s ST morcha from 2006 to 2009.
As a reward for her outstanding contribution, she was awarded the ‘Nilakantha Award for Best MLA’ in 2007 by the legislative assembly. She has also served as a government servant from 1979 to 1983 in the position of a junior assistant in the Odisha government’s irrigation and power department. As a grassroots worker, she has also taught without any salary at the Shri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre in Rairangpur.