22 June 2022

Tribal woman likely to be India’s next ceremonial president

22 June 2022

A woman representing India’s poor tribal community is likely to be the country’s next president after the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chose Draupadi Murmu as its candidate.

The presidency is a ceremonial post and the election of Ms Murmu, 64, is a formality, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in a strong position to galvanise support for her among legislators at parliament and state level.

The BJP chose Ms Murmu at the party’s parliamentary board meeting on Tuesday chaired by Mr Modi.

Party president JP Nadda told reporters that they felt the next president should be a female tribal candidate.

A divided opposition named Yashwant Sinha, a BJP rebel, to challenge Ms Murmu in the election.

Mr Sinha, 84, had served as the country’s finance minister during the previous BJP government from 1998 to 2002.

He quit the party following a divergence with Mr Modi on economic issues in 2018.

The vote will be held on July 18.

In India, the prime minister is the head of the government and holds the executive authority, and the president mostly follows the prime minister’s advice so long as it is constitutional.

Ms Murmu, a member of Mr Modi’s BJP, hails from the eastern Odisha state and had served as the governor of Jharkhand state.

Mr Modi tweeted on Tuesday: “Droupadi Murmu has devoted her life to serving society and empowering the poor, downtrodden as well as the marginalised.”

Ms Murmu’s father and her grandfather were village headmen in Baidaposi in Mayurbhanj district in Odisha.

Tribes are generally poor, lacking health care and education facilities in remote Indian villages.

India’s tribal communities have developed their cultural traditions and economies in concert with the natural resources at hand.

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