Droupadi Murmu Elected India’s First Tribal President!
Lawmakers chose India’s first president from the country’s tribal communities on Thursday, which could boost the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party among marginalized groups ahead of the 2024 general election.
Droupadi Murmu, a 64-year-old former teacher who became a politician, will be the second woman to be head of the republic when she takes office on July 25 for a five-year term. The job is mostly for show.
On Monday, more than 4,500 state and federal lawmakers voted in the election for president. The votes were counted on Thursday. Murmu was sure to win because Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules both federal and state politics, was behind her.
“A daughter of India hailing from a tribal community born in a remote part of eastern India has been elected our President!” Modi said on Twitter.
Murmu was born into a family of the Santhal tribe in the state of Odisha. She began her career as a school teacher and was very involved in issues in her community.
She later joined mainstream politics and was a BJP state lawmaker in Odisha before becoming governor of the eastern state of Jharkhand.
Her election is seen as a way for the BJP to reach out to India’s tribal people, who make up more than 8% of the country’s 1.4 billion people.
“The BJP will want to make up for any anti-incumbency of the last 10 years in 2024,” political columnist Neerja Choudhary told Reuters. “One way to do that is to go for a new vote base.”
Murmu won nearly twice as many votes as the opposition candidate, Yashwant Sinha, who used to be a BJP finance minister but is now a fierce critic of Modi.
The Indian president is the head of the armed forces, but the prime minister is in charge of running the country. Ram Nath Kovind will be replaced by Murmu.
Still, the president plays a key role in political crises, like when an election doesn’t produce a clear winner, by deciding which party is most likely to be able to form a government.