Droupadi Murmu (born 20 June 1958) is an Indian politician who is the 15th President-elect of India. She is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. She served as the ninth Governor of Jharkhand between 2015 and 2021 and was chosen as the presidential candidate for the National Democratic Alliance in the 2022 election. After securing a majority of votes, Murmu made history by becoming the first tribal and second woman to secure this post. Once she takes oath as the President of India on 25th July 2022, Murmu will be the youngest President to date and the first to be born after independence.
Droupadi Murmu was born in a Santali tribal family on June 20, 1958, in Baidaposi village of Mayurbhanj district in Odisha, to Biranchi Narayan Tudu. Both her father and grandfather were elected as sarpanch under the Panchayati Raj system. Murmu is an arts graduate of Rama Devi Women’s College.
She married Shyam Charan Murmu, a banker, who died in 2014. The couple had two sons, both of whom are dead, and a daughter. She lost her husband, two sons, mother, and a brother in a span of 7 years, from 2009 to 2015.
Murmu started out as a school teacher before entering state politics. She worked as an assistant professor at the Shri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research Institute, Rairangpur and junior assistant at irrigation department Government of Odisha.
Murmu joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1997 and was elected as the councilor of the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat. Murmu became the Chairperson of Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 2000.
During the BJP and Biju Janata Dal coalition government in Odisha, she was the Minister of State with Independent Charge for Commerce and Transportation from March 6, 2000, to August 6, 2002, and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development from August 6, 2002, to May 16, 2004
Murmu took oath as the Governor of Jharkhand on 18 May 2015, becoming the first woman Governor of Jharkhand. The BJP was in power in the Jharkhand Government for most of the six-year tenure as a governor. BJP was in power in the Union Government throughout her tenure.
Ratan Tirkey, a former BJP politician, said that Murmu had not done enough to make sure that the self-governance rights granted to tribal communities were properly implemented. These rights were granted under the Fifth Schedule and the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA. Tirkey said, “Despite several requests, the then governor never exercised her powers to implement the Fifth Schedule provisions and Pesa in letter and spirit”.
In 2017, the Raghubar Das ministry was seeking amendments to the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908, and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949. These two original laws had safeguarded the rights of the tribal communities on their land. According to the existing laws the land transactions could only be done between the tribals. The new amendments gave the tribals the right to allow the government to make commercial use of the tribal land and to take the tribal land on lease. The proposed bill amending the existing law had been approved by the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly. The bills were sent to Murmu for approval in November 2016.
The tribal people had strongly objected to the proposed law. During the Pathalgardi rebellion, protests were held against the proposed amendments to the tenancy acts. In one incident the protests turned violent and the tribals abducted the security detail of the BJP MP Karia Munda. Police responded to violent crackdown on the tribals that caused the death of a tribal man. Criminal cases were filed against more than 200 people including the tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy. Murmu, was criticized for her soft stand on police aggression against tribals during the movement. According to woman tribal rights activist Aloka Kujur she was expected to speak up to the government in support of the tribals but it did not happened, and instead she appealed to the Pathalgarhi agitation leaders to repose faith in the constitution
Murmu had received total of 192 memorandums against the amendments in the bill. Then opposition leader Hemant Soren had said that the BJP government wanted to acquire tribal land through the two amendment Bills for the benefit of corporates. Opposition parties Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Congress, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and others had put intense pressure against the bill. On 24 May 2017, Murmu relented and refused to give assent to the bills and returned the bill to the state government along with the memorandums she had received. The bill was later withdrawn in August 2017.
In June 2022, the BJP nominated Murmu as the National Democratic Alliance‘s candidate for President of India for the 2022 election the following month. As of Now, she is elected as the President of India and will assume office on 25th July 2022. She will be the first tribal politician and second woman to be elected president. Yashwant Sinha, was nominated as the candidate for President by the opposition parties. During her election campaign, Murmu visited various states seeking support for her candidature. Several opposition parties like JMM, BSP, Shiv Sena among others had announced support for her candidature prior to polling
On 21st July 2022, Murmu secured a comfortable majority in the 2022 Presidential election defeating common opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha with 676,803 electoral votes (64.03% of total) in 21 of the 28 states (including in the union territory of Puducherry) to become the 15th President of India.
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