The race for the post of President is expected to hot up in the sizzling summer months. With elections due in July, who will be India’s next President is anyone’s guess. Elections to the post take place through an electoral college composed of MPs and MLAs, where the vote of each MP/MLA carries a value proportionate to the population of the state and the strength of its Legislature. The strength of Electoral college is around 11 Lakh votes currently, of which BJP alone has 4.3 Lakh votes, while NDA allies bring up that tally to 5.24L, a little short of the magical half way mark. Support from favourable parties such as BJD, ADMK etc. can help the NDA nominee sail through. The big question that remains is who would BJP’s nominee be. Names that have done the rounds so far include Margdarshaks- L K Advani and M M Joshi, EAM Sushma Swaraj, LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat and even Superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
हिंदी संस्करण यहाँ पढ़ें
In this long litany of names that include women, weaker sections, successful politicians et al, lies the name of Draupadi Murmu, now being touted as a hot favourite for the post of President of India.
Draupadi Murmu is not your usual politician. Hailing from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, belonging to the ST community, 59 year old Draupadi Murmu started out as a Teacher, moving into the Irrigation and Power Dept, Odisha government before taking a plunge into politics, where she found her calling.
Starting at the grassroots, she was elected as the Councillor of Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in ’97. She was then appointed as the Vice President of BJP’s Scheduled Tribes Morcha. In 2000, she was elected as a legislator from the Rairangpur constituency and served as a minister in Commerce and Transport and subsequently Fisheries and Animal resources department. She was also elevated to the position of National Executive member of BJP’s ST morcha. In 2015, she was appointed as the Governor of Jharhand, becoming the first woman Governor of Jharkhand. Her background as a member of ST community holds special relevance in Jharkhand, 26% of whose population is Tribal.
Were Draupadi Murmu to be elected as the President of India, she would be the first Tribal woman to be elected as the President. She will also be the first Odia to be elected as India’s President. In addition to these firsts, President Draupadi Murmu would stand as a symbol of empowerment to the millions of native Tribal communities in all parts of the country. She will stand as a powerful symbol of India’s diversity and its strength in uplifting the weakest sections of the society.
Given that most people expect Modi to install a Hindutva icon as India’s President, Draupadi Murmu’s choice seems to match Modi’s penchant for springing surprises on the opposition. The Opposition would be hard pressed to oppose a seemingly un-opposable candidate, thereby highlighting their hypocrisy.
Draupadi Murmu’s selection as NDA’s Presidential candidate might just be another masterstroke.