Presidential cabdidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Droupadi Murmu has been declared President-elect of India.
Murmu, 64, won by an overwhelming margin against Yashwant Sinha, after receiving over 64 per cent valid votes in a day-long counting of ballots of MPs and MLAs, comprising the electoral college, to succeed Ram Nath Kovid to become India’s 15th president
Secretary General of Rajya Sabha and the Returning Officer for Presidential Election 2022, PC Mody, handed over the certificate to President-elect Droupadi Murmu at her residence in Delhi.
“Presidential Election concluded with declaration of result…4754 votes polled, out of which 4701 valid & 53 invalid…The quota (for a candidate to be elected the President) was 5,28,491.
“1,877 first preference votes were secured by Yashwant Sinha – value 3,80,177.
“In my capacity as Returning Officer declare that she has been elected to office of President of India”, Mody said.
Murmu received 2,824 votes with a value 6,76,803 while her opponent Yashwant Sinha secured 1,877 votes with a value 3,80,177.
A total of 4,809 MPs and MLAs cast their votes in the polling that took place on July 18.
Of the 736 electors comprising 727 MPs and nine MLAs who were permitted by the Election Commission to vote at Parliament House, 728 electors cast their votes. The total turnout at Parliament House was 98.91 percent.
Murmu became the first tribal woman and the second woman to be elected President in India. She is also the first President to be born after independence and is the youngest to occupy the top post.
Born in 1958 in Baidaposi village of Mayurbhanj district, Ms Murmu belongs to the Santhal community, one of India’s largest tribal groups.
Daughter of a village council chief, she studied at the Ramadevi Women’s College in the state capital, Bhubaneswar.
Journalist and activist Nigamananda Patnaik, who known her since 1980, said Ms Murmu started her education in her village school.
“When she was a child, her father took her to the nearby town of Rairangpur when a minister in the Odisha government, Kartik Majhi, was visiting. Suddenly, she ran up onto the stage, waving her school certificate, and told the minister that she wanted to study in Bhubaneswar”, said Patnaik
The minister was so impressed by the little girl’s enthusiasm that he ordered his staff to help her get a place in a government school in the state capital, Ms Patnaik added.
Beginning her career as a clerk for the Odisha government, Ms Murmu served as a junior assistant in the irrigation and energy department from 1979-1983.
After she quit her job in Bhubaneswar and returned to Rairangpur to take care of her family at the insistence of her mother-in-law, she took up a job as a teacher at the Sri Aurobindo Integral School.
“But she refused to accept a salary. The school only paid her rickshaw fare. She said this was not a job, but public service. She said the salary of her husband, a bank officer, was enough to take care of the family needs”, Ms Patnaik added.
Her political career began in 1997 when she was elected as a councillor in the local polls in Rairangpur. She was often seen personally supervising sanitation work in the town, standing in the sun as drains were cleaned and garbage cleared.
As a member of the BJP, she was elected to the state assembly twice, in 2000 and in 2009 from the Rairangpur seat.
From 2000 to 2004, she was a minister in the state’s coalition government, led by Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal party. Initially, in charge of commerce and transport, she later handled the fisheries and animal resources portfolios.
From 2006 to 2009, Ms Murmu was the president of the BJP’s state wing for “scheduled tribes” – tribal communities recognised by India’s constitution as socially and economically disadvantaged.
Her life took a tragic turn in 2009 when she lost her elder son in mysterious circumstances. A few years later, she also lost her second son and her husband.
“She was heartbroken. She would cry inconsolably whenever we’d meet. She used to say, ‘there’s nothing left in my life anymore”, Mr Satpathy said.
But she pulled herself together and in 2015, she was appointed as the first female governor of the neighbouring state of Jharkhand. She held the position for six years until July 2021.
According to BBC Hindi’s Ravi Prakash in Ranchi, Jharkhand’s capital, Ms Murmu won appreciation during her tenure for keeping the governor’s office open to people from all walks of life.
On several occasions, she also made news for breaking protocol – like when she visited Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at his home or went with a delegation to meet the railway minister to press for the expansion of rail services in Mayurbhanj, her home district.
“Both incidents were considered violations of protocol. But she couldn’t care less”, her political mentor, Rajkishore Das, said, adding that the most remarkable part of Ms Murmu’s personality “is her equanimity in both happy and sad times and her stoicism in the face of tragedy. The way she gathered herself and continued working for the people even after multiple tragedies in her family speaks volumes about her remarkable strength of character.”