Droupadi Murmu wins presidential elections with 64% votes, set to be first tribal woman Rashtrapati

Droupadi Murmu was elected the 15th President of India on Thursday, emerging victorious after crossing the halfway mark in the third round of counting, as the 64-year-old NDA candidate defeated the opposition’s Yashwant Sinha to pave the way for the first tribal woman to occupy the post.

She will take oath as the next President of India on July 25.

Murmu benefited from cross-voting in her favour, as she got 1,349 votes valued at 483,299 out of 1,886 votes valued at 673,175 after the third round, in which votes cast by MPs and MLAs of ten states were covered. Sinha polled 537 votes valued at 189,876.

The former governor of Jharkhand took a big lead after the first round of counting, which covered the votes cast by MPs, winning 540 votes valued at 378,000 out of the total 748 valid votes valued at 523,600. Sinha got 208 votes valued at 145,600, while votes of 15 MPs were declared invalid.

The ten states covered till the third round of counting were Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Murmu’s election was almost certain from the time her name was announced as the NDA candidate. The BJD extended support to the “daughter of Odisha” which ensured she would cross the halfway mark. The YSRCP also backed her.

Her candidature also created a divide in the opposition camp. The JMM extended support to her due to her tribal credentials. A few other tribal MPs and MLAs cutting across party lines also voted for her.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in congratulating Murmu and visited her residence in Delhi to wish her. “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. Congratulations to Smt Droupadi Murmu ji on this feat,” he said on Twitter.

Murmu will be only the second woman to become President, after Pratibha Patil. Belonging to the Santhal tribe of Odisha, she hails from the Mayurbhanj region of the state. She started out as a teacher and then became a junior assistant in the irrigation department, before entering politics. She served as a minister in the BJD-BJP government in Odisha and held the fisheries, animal resource development, commerce and transport portfolios. Years later, she became the Governor of Jharkhand from 2015 to 2021, the first tribal woman to do so.

Sinha conceded defeat and congratulated Murmu for winning the election. In a statement, he said, “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.”

He said his contesting served two purposes, that of bringing the opposition parties on a common platform and of highlighting major issues like the “blatant and rampant weaponisation of ED, CBI, Income Tax and even the office of governor against opposition parties and their leaders”.

Murmu’s life has been one of struggle, hailing as she does from a very humble background. She dedicated her life to public service after entering politics. She joined the BJP in 1997 and has served the party in various capacities.

She lost her husband in 2014. Her two grown-up sons passed away within four years of her husband’s death. She also has a daughter.

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