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Friday, June 2, 2023

Meet Smt. Droupadi Murmu, Bharat’s first woman vanvasi Presidential candidate

The BJP on Tuesday announced the name of former Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu as its Presidential candidate. The decision was taken by the BJP Parliamentary board, the party’s top decision making body. Earlier, the Opposition had announced former union minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, now a bitter and abusive critic of PM Modi and Hindutva, as it’s Presidential candidate.

Today morning, Smt. Murmu visited a Shiva temple in her native Rairangpur and performed seva by sweeping the floor before offering prayers to Bhagwan Shiva. Earlier, she offered prayers at Rairangpur Jagannath temple and visited a sacred vanvasi place called ‘Jahira’.

June 29 is the last date for filing nomination for the Presidential poll, while voting will take place on July 18. Counting of votes will take place on July 21.

Smt. Droupadi Murmu hails from Odisha and becomes the first vanvasi (tribal or Scheduled Tribe i.e. ST) and second woman to contest for the country’s highest constitutional post. Before this, she also holds the record of being the first vanvasi woman Governor in the country. Her tenure as the Governor of Jharkhand for more than 6 years was not only been non-controversial, but also memorable. After the completion of her tenure, she left the Jharkhand Raj Bhavan for her village in Odisha’s Rairangpur on July 12, 2021 and is living there since then.

Born on June 20, 1958 in Odisha’s remote Mayurbhanj district in a simple Santhal vanvasi family, Smt. Murmu obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ramadevi Women’s College in Bhubaneswar despite adverse family circumstances. She started her political career in 1997 with the BJP and has remained with the party ever since. She was elected councillor of the district board in Rairangpur in 1997. Prior to joining politics, Smt. Murmu worked as a junior assistant in the Odisha Irrigation Department and as an honorary assistant teacher at Sri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research Centre, Rairangpur.

She has been MLA twice in Odisha and also got a chance to work as a minister in the Naveen Patnaik government, when the BJP was in coalition with the Biju Janata Dal. She has diverse administrative experience, having handled various ministries in Odisha like Transport and commerce and having served in departments
like fisheries, animal husbandry etc. She was also awarded the Neelkanth Award for Best Legislator by the Odisha Legislative Assembly in 2007.

Smt. Murmu was sworn in as the Governor of Jharkhand on May 18, 2015. She was always aware of the issues related to tribal affairs, education, law and order, and health of Jharkhand. On several occasions, she questioned decisions of the state governments, but always with constitutional dignity and decency. During her tenure as the ex-officio Chancellor of the Universities, the vacant posts of Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor were appointed in many universities of the state.

Senior Professor at Vinoba Bhave University Dr Shailesh Chandra Sharma recalls that she herself organised Lok Adalats on issues related to higher education in the state, in which about 5,000 cases of university teachers and employees were settled. In order to centralise the enrollment process in the universities and colleges of the state, she created the Chancellor’s portal.

On the personal front, Droupadi Murmu is a widow – her late husband Shyam Charam Murmu was a UCO Bank manager. Out of her 3 children, 2 sons are now deceased while daughter Itishree Murmu is employed with UCO Bank and married to rugby player Ganesh Hembram; the couple have a daughter.  In 2016, Droupadi Murmu announced that she would donate her eyes upon her death.

Smt. Droupadi Murmu with daughter Itishree and grand-daughter

From a Santhal village in a remote part of Odisha, class 3 state government employee, to school teacher, to politician, to MLA and minister, to Bharat’s first woman vanvasi governor, to Presidential candidate, Droupadi Murmu’s incredible life story inspires us that nothing is impossible for those willing to work hard and persevere.

It is a refreshing change to see such a deserving and inspirational person, who represents the pluralistic and Dharmic ethos of Bharat, being nominated for the post of President. Compared to some past Presidents and candidates, NDA’s choices like Droupadi Murmu, Ramnath Kovind and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam have been a breath of fresh air.

(With IANS inputs)

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