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.

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? 

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

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.