In Draupadi Murmu, BJP finds tribal face to follow Dalit president
- Draupadi Murmu is BJP’s presidential nominee
- Murmu will be going up against Yashwant Sinha
- Draupadi Murmu belongs to the Santhal tribe
Draupadi Murmu, former Governor of Jharkhand who belongs to the Santhal tribal group, is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s pick in the upcoming presidential elections. A leader who has had a long association with the BJP, Murmu is the only Jharkhand governor to have completed a full five-year term since the state was formed in 2000. Draupadi Murmu served as Jharkhand governor from 2015 to 2021.
Murmu’s candidature as BJP’s presidential nominee is interesting in its politics. Once regarded as the party of caste Hindus, the BJP, since 2014, has made headway into bringing in leaders from Dalit-Adivasi backgrounds into leadership positions. If Murmu becomes President of India, she will follow Ram Nath Kovind, India’s first Dalit president.
Also Read | Who is Draupadi Murmu?
Presidential elections in India are often aimed at social messaging. In India’s parliamentary system, the president as little powers and is almost guided on every decision by the prime minister and the cabinet, barring some discretionary functions. The presidential post is often aimed at bringing in people from marginal sections and empowering them through representation in the mainstream.
Further, as with all political decisions, the nomination of Draupadi Murmu as BJP’s presidential candidate is expected to help the party gain the support of both tribal and women voters. Ahead of its announcement of the presidential candidate, the BJP was battling accusations from the Congress for not supporting Meira Kumar in the 2017 presidential polls. Meira Kumar was a Dalit candidate who went against Ram Nath Kovind but lost.
Following the announcement of Draupadi Murmu as the presidential candidate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “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 for our nation.”
“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,” Modi wrote in a second tweet.
Born in Odisha’s Mayubhanj, Draupadi Murmu’s political career began as a councillor. She later went on to become a minister in Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal and BJP coalition. Subsequently, she served as Jharkhand governor. In the presidential polls, Murmu will be up against Yashwant Sinha.
Yashwant Sinha, a former member of the BJP who had served as Union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, had quit his party alleging that under Narendra Modi’s leadership, the BJP was undermining democratic institutions. He later went on to join Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
Sinha was a united opposition’s nominee after Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi refused to contest the polls. A victory for the opposition in the upcoming presidential polls is unlikely.