Many sweets to Droupadi Murmu as she has tasted the sweetest victory that is made with a perdurable recipe. India has scripted history and it is as clear as day that Murmu will be taking oath as the 15th President of the Republic of India, succeeding the incumbent Ram Nath Kovind who will be stepping down on July 24. With the glorious triumph, Murmu has become the first Adivasi person and the second woman to take charge as the President of India.
In a major transition, India's top constitutional crown will now be clad by Murmu for the next five years. In a necessitated election after the absence of a common candidate for the top post, the electoral college - MPs and MLAs have cast their votes for the Presidential poll on July 18 and from the beginning to the end, Murmu was leading the race to the Rashtrapati Bhavan against the Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha.
On Thursday- July 21, it was officially declared that Murmu has won the elections and will take charge as 15th President of India. As per the official records, BJP-backed Murmu has secured 65.01% of votes from the Electoral College while Sinha got 34.99%. Murmu defeated Sinha by a margin of 2,96,626 votes. The Election Commission of India will be handing over the official winning certificate to Murmu on Friday. As Murmu will be our President for the next five years, let's look back at her life and some of her lesser-known facts.
A sweet tooth in personal life
Droupadi Murmu has been known for her selfless host in her personal life. Murmu is a sweet tooth. Though she was fond of sweets from a younger age, she sacrificed her desire most of the time as even winning bread was a challenge in her home state of Odisha during her childhood days. She is a native of the Mayurbhanj district in Odisha and she has held several responsible roles in her life and now, she is all set to enter the Rashtrapati Bhavan. In all walks of life, Murmu remained a sweet tooth.
When Murmu started making money, she used to offer sweets and chocolates to her nears and dears. The more into society, the more affectionate she became. While she was working at the SLS Residential Tribal School in Odisha's Paharpur, she used to distribute sweets to children and she nurtured this culture. In personal life, Murmu is known for her affectionate gesture and endearing hospitality. It was her quality of embracing all that had made her what she is today. The personal losses had distressed her but didn't collapse her. She still remains an affable person with a hearty host in her.
A strong voice in her political life
On the other side of the aisle, Murmu has built her political life through her strong voice and not to be caught in the whirl of contemporary politics. People who closely watched the President-elect have divulged that Murmu is against competitive politics. She has rendered her voice to the tribal people, which made her a prominent tribal figure, which in turn strengthened her visibility on the national stage. It was her strong political life that cemented her with top prospects.
According to India Today, BJP leader Rajkishore Das, who introduced Murmu into politics, expressed how Murmu inspired him through her political diplomacy. Das said, "There was a lot of tussle among the followers of various leaders in BJP in old days. My followers would fight with the followers of Murmu and one day, Murmu came to me and suggested that we can start being affectionate toward each other's followers? It was a big lesson in politics. Being leaders, we have to light the way and must carry responsibility."
In another instance, when one of Murmu's contenders Surama Padhy made it to the Odisha cabinet in 2005 by defeating the former, Murmu expressed that she was happy with Padhy's achievement. Once, Padhy said, "She (Murmu) would often come to me to address the public grievances. If such grievances are not under my department, she would take me around other cabinet colleagues to address the grievances." Another quality of her strong political life is her intimacy with the people during her tenure.
During her tenure as a Vice-Chairperson of the Rairangpur municipality, Murmu has personally overseen the drainage and sewerage works. Murmu has never hesitated to sit on the floors and encourage tribal women to open up their problems. Murmu has started her political journey with the BJP in 1997. At first, she was elected as a Councillor in the Nagar Panchayat of the Rairangpur district of Odisha.
She was elected as MLA two times in 2000 and in 2009 from the Mayurbhanj assembly seat. Excelling in social work, Murmu was conferred with the Neelkanth Award for the Outstanding Legislator by the Odisha Legislative Assembly in the year 2007. She also had served as a minister in the coalition government of BJP and Biju Janata Dal in Odisha. On May 18, 2015, Murmu was appointed the ninth Governor of Jharkhand and she held the office till 2021.
Becoming Modi's choice for Governor
Behind Murmu's elevation as the Governor, there lies an interesting story of how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested her name. After coming to power in Jharkhand, BJP had appointed Raghubar Das, a non-tribal leader, as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. Raghubar Das has come to the front after BJP's tribal leader Arjun Munda lost the election. The reports say that there was a worry that a tribal state like Jharkhand had a non-tribal Chief Minister as the majority of the state population are tribes.
It was when Modi put the name of Murmu on the table. Modi suggested Murmu's name for the Governor of Jharkhand as she is a very popular leader among various tribes. Also, with the view of reaping the tribal votes in the crucial coal belt, the BJP has decided to appoint Murmu as Jharkhand Governor. This same view has a role in her recent elevation as the President. Notably, she was in the fray of Presidential nominees in 2017 as well.
During her tenure as Governor, Murmu has vetoed the state BJP government's Chota Nagpur Tenancy and Santhal Parganas Tenancy Laws. She was of the opinion that the proposed laws would allow the tribal lands for commercial use. She decided that their lands shouldn't be used for trade due to which she didn't give her consent to the laws. It was then speculated that her decision would earn dissents from the Central BJP as she has rejected the laws of a BJP government.
However, in the 2017 Presidential polls, Murmu was one of the contenders to win the BJP's nomination. What made her be on the front was her popularity among the tribal people, her social work, and her political quality. These factors have now culminated to elevate her as India's 15th President. Her gubernatorial tenure has put her in the national spotlight and in Murmu's presidential appointment, India would see many firsts including the first Adivasi president, the first president to be born in an independent India, and the first woman from Odisha to become India's first citizen. After Pratibha Patil, Murmu will become the second woman to hold the top constitutional post.
The nation's upcoming first family
One of the lesser-known facts about Murmu is that she has in 2016 announced that she will donate her eyes after her life. Born on June 20, 1958, Murmu is from a locally-prominent family as her father and grandfather had served as the village head in Odisha. She had married Shyam Charan Murmu, who was a banker. Murmu's husband died in 2014 and the couple had two sons and a daughter.
While two of her sons were dead, her daughter Itishree Murmu, who is also a banker, is married to Ganesh Hembram, who is a rugby player. In the span of seven years, from 2009 to 2015, Droupadi Murmu had lost her husband, two sons, her mother, and a brother. After being distressed over back-to-back losses, Murmu had become a keen practitioner of meditation and she had associated with a women-run movement, Brahma Kumaris.