Scripting history Thursday, NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu became the first tribal woman to be elected to the highest post in the country, its 15th President.
Murmu, former Governor of Jharkhand, trounced challenger and Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, securing 64.03 per cent of the total votes polled.
The 64-year-old will be administered the Presidential oath of office by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana at a ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament on July 25.
Even before the results were officially announced, Sinha congratulated Murmu and hoped she would function as the “Custodian of the Constitution without fear or favour”.
President Ram Nath Kovind greeted his successor. “Heartiest congratulations and best wishes to Smt. Droupadi Murmu on being elected as the 15th President of India,” he said in a Twitter post.
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said, “Heartiest congratulations to Smt Droupadi Murmu ji on being elected as the 15th President of India! Her wide experience in public life, spirit of selfless service and deep understanding of people’s issues will greatly benefit the nation. My best wishes for a successful tenure.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who along with BJP president J P Nadda called on Murmu at her residence around the time she crossed the halfway mark during the counting of votes, said on Twitter, “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.”
“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. Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji has been an outstanding MLA and Minister. She had an excellent tenure as Jharkhand Governor. I am certain she will be an outstanding President who will lead from the front and strengthen India’s development journey,” Modi said.
Speaker Om Birla said, “Hearty Congratulations to Smt. Droupadi Murmu ji on being elected as the President of India. Your role in giving voice to hopes & aspirations of people is exemplary. I hope under your able guidance, people of our country will make a leading contribution in building a New India.”
Murmu bagged 2824 of the total 4701 valid votes while Sinha managed 1877 votes. Of the 4754 votes, 53 votes were invalid. In terms of vote value, the NDA candidate logged 676803 of the total 1072377 and Sinha 380177.
She secured 64.03 per cent of the total votes polled. According to BJP leaders, she got more than expected votes — additional 17 votes from Parliament and 104 from states.
Sinha conceded defeat during the third round of counting and said his candidature had brought most Opposition parties on a common platform. He hoped that Opposition unity would continue beyond the Presidential election. “It must be equally evident in the election of the Vice-President,” he said on the day the Trinamool Congress decided to abstain from voting in the August 6 Vice-Presidential contest between NDA nominee Jagdeep Dhankhar and Opposition nominee Margaret Alva.
“I heartily congratulate Smt 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 said in a statement.
Thanking leaders of the Opposition parties for choosing him as their consensus candidate, he said, “I also thank all members of the Electoral College who voted for me. I accepted the offer of Opposition parties solely guided by the philosophy of Karma Yoga preached by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita — “Do your duty without expectation of the fruits thereof.” I have performed my duty conscientiously out of my love for my country. The issues I had raised during my campaign remain pertinent.”While the counting of votes was underway in Parliament House, the BJP said Murmu would win with more votes than the party expected.
BJP president Nadda said, “The response was much more than the expectation with which her candidature was announced. It means our thought process was right and the people accepted it.”
The ruling party has projected her candidature as the BJP’s move to empower women and tribals across the country.
“This step, a historic one, is an expansion of the BJP’s thought process i.e. Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. With the way the Padma awards were distributed and the appointments that have been made, the party has shown that we are empowering ordinary and humble citizens. Now we have ensured that a simple woman, who came up in life through hard ways and sheer hard work, despite her personal tragedies and difficulties, is elected to the supreme post in the country,” a senior leader of the party said.
For the BJP, tribal votes are significant, especially in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where Assembly elections are due later this year and next year.