With President Pranab Mukherjee set to leave the Raisina Hill in July this year, many names are being floated by various political parties for the top post. So far, the names of former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, current Governor of Manipur Najma Heptulla and Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu are doing the rounds. Reportedly, Murmu has emerged as a favourite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Hailing from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district and coming from a tribal community, Murmu started out as a teacher and then entered into Odisha politics. She became MLA twice on BJP ticket from Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj (2000 and 2009). When BJP was losing its sheen with the rise of Naveen Patnaik, she could hold her constituency.
Before she came to prominence, in her modest beginning, she was elected as the councillor of Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997. After serving as vice-president of BJP’s Scheduled Tribes Morcha, she was elected as a legislator from the Rairangpur constituency in 2000. During the BJD and BJP coalition government in Odisha, she served as a minister in Commerce and Transport and subsequently Fisheries and Animal Resources department between 2000 and 2004. In 2015, Murmu was sworn in as the first woman Governor of Jharkhand.
Her political life has been beset with personal tragedies. She has lost her husband Shyam Charan Murmu and two sons.
If she ends up becoming the President of India with the backing of the BJP, she would not only represent tribal population across states but can also help boost Narendra Modi’s image, impacting tribal vote share in the 2019 General Elections.