Murmu scripts history, becomes first tribal President of India
The NDA candidate, Droupadi Murmu, on Thursday secured over 64 per cent of the electoral college votes to be elected the first tribal woman President of the country.
The outcome, though widely expected, came as a blow to the Opposition whose nominee Yashwant Sinha stood decisively marginalised with a few MPs and several MLAs believed to have cross-voted in favour of Murmu.
The message going out was that the Opposition continues to be in disarray and is still struggling to mount a credible challenge to the Narendra Modi-led BJP.
The Prime Minister thanked MPs and MLAs who had voted for Murmu “across party lines”, appearing to acknowledge the cross-voters, and said her victory “augurs well for our democracy”.
In the result was almost a repeat of 2017 when the NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind had polled just over 65 per cent of the valid electoral college votes.
The BJP went all out to squeeze political mileage from Murmu’s victory, claiming credit for giving the country its first tribal woman President.
Modi drove to the President-elect’s temporary residence in the capital to congratulate her as she crossed the 50 per cent margin during counting.
“India scripts history,” Modi declared on Twitter. “At a time when 1.3 billion Indians are marking Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, a daughter of India hailing from a tribal community born in a remote part of eastern India has been elected out President,” he wrote. “Congratulations to Smt Droupadi Murmu Ji on this feat,” the tweet added.
India scripts history. At a time when 1.3 billion Indians are marking Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, a daughter of India hailing from a tribal community born in a remote part of eastern India has been elected our President!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 21, 2022
Congratulations to Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji on this feat.
Modi posted a series of tweets that reflected the political intent of exploiting the election of Murmu to the hilt, as BJP managers and workers poured out on the streets of the capital and across the country to hold victory celebrations waving the Tricolor. BJP leaders said that a larger and longer plan was being drawn up to cash in on the win.
“Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji’s life, her struggles, her rich service and her exemplary success motivates each and every Indian. She has emerged a ray of hope for our citizens, especially the poor, marginalized and the downtrodden,” Modi said in another tweet.
Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji's life, her early struggles, her rich service and her exemplary success motivates each and every Indian. She has emerged as a ray of hope for our citizens, especially the poor, marginalised and the downtrodden.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 21, 2022
Yashwant Sinha, who polled 35.97 per cent of the votes, said in a statement: “I heartily congratulate Srimati Droupadi Murmu on her victory in the Presidential Election 2022. I hope — indeed, every Indian hopes — that as the 15th President of India she functions as the Custodian of the Constitution without fear or favour. I join my fellow countrymen in extending best wishes to her.”
Sinha acknowledged his defeat even before the counting had ended, aware that he stood no chance. Even Opposition parties such as the JMM and the Shiv Sena had declared support for Murmu.
The BJP is hoping the symbolism of the first tribal woman President would boost the chances of driving Hindutva deeper into tribal areas of the country and, in the process, enlarge the party’s electoral footprint. Party managers said that apart from working in their favour in the upcoming state elections, it will also help in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“There are roughly 50 Lok Sabha seats where tribal votes play a decisive role. Droupadi Murmu’s election will also help us in spreading wings in the remote area of eastern states,” one BJP leader said.