After days of deliberations and hectic parleys, the BJP on Tuesday named Droupadi Murmu as its candidate for the July 18 presidential election. A former Jharkhand Governor, 64-year-old Murmu will be the first tribal woman to occupy the top constitutional post if she is elected, a strong possibility as numbers are stacked in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
With her nomination, the BJP is sending out a significant political message after elevating a Dalit, Ram Nath Kovind, to the top post five years back. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Murmu has devoted her life to serving society and expressed confidence that she will be a “great President”.
Meanwhile, Murmu said she was surprised as well as delighted by the announcement. Incidentally, her name was also doing the rounds for the BJP’s likely choice for the top constitutional post in 2017.
Considered soft-spoken and affable, the leader, who comes from Mayurbhanj, one of the more backward regions of Odisha, has held various positions in the party, rising through the ranks, and was a minister in the state when the BJP was in alliance with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Her political career began when she contested and won an election for councillor in Rairangpur, Odisha. She later won the assembly election in 2000 from Rairangpur and became a minister in the BJD-BJP government in the state.
In 2013, she rose to the rank of national executive member of the party’s Scheduled Tribe Morcha in Odisha. She has diverse administrative experience having handled ministries such as transport, commerce, fisheries and animal husbandry in the Odisha government.
As a reward for her outstanding contribution, she was awarded the ‘Nilakantha Award for Best MLA’ in 2007 by the legislative assembly.
She has also served as a government servant from 1979 to 1983 in the position of a junior assistant in the Odisha government’s irrigation and power department.