Droupadi Murmu is India’s 15th President, the first tribal woman to hold the top post. It has been a long journey from the small village of Uparbeda in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha to the palatial presidential palace in the heart of the national capital, Delhi. One filled not just with extraordinary achievements but also unimaginable personal loss.

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Droupadi Murmu, who had three children, lost both her sons and then her banker husband, Shyam Charan Murmu, within a gap of five years. Her 25-year-old elder son Laxman died in 2009. He was reportedly found unconscious in his bed one morning and was rushed to one hospital and then another, which said he was dead on arrival. 

Laxman Murmu died in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar, where he lived with his uncle and aunt. Droupadi Murmu was away in Rairangpur, the constituency she represented in the state assembly from 2000 to earlier that year.

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In 2012 tragedy struck again when Droupadi Murmu’s younger son Sipun Murmu died in a road accident. Just two years later, in 2014, Shyam Charan Murmu died of a cardiac arrest. 

Those difficult years also saw Murmu lose elections – she contested and lost the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and in 2014, lost the assembly election from her old constituency Rairangpur.

In 2015, Droupadi Murmu made history when she was appointed Governor of Jharkhand, the first woman to head the state. She would go on to be the first Governor to finish a full term in the state. The young Santhal woman who joined the BJP in 1997 and became councillor of Rairangpur had come a long way. 

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Last month, the National Democratic Alliance, led by the BJP, picked Droupadi Murmu as its candidate for President. With the BJP’s might in Parliament and most state legislatures in the country, the election against the Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha was lopsided. Votes were counted today and Droupadi Murmu was announced India’s 15th President. 

The 64-year-old is the country’s first tribal President. She will replace Ram Nath Kovind

Droupadi Murmu has a daughter, Itishree, who works in a bank in Odisha.