India is likely to have its second female president before the end of July as candidate Draupadi Murmu is expected to receive more than 60 percent of the vote.
Indian lawmakers began the voting process on Monday. Political analysts believe that Murmu, a 64-year-old candidate from the Santhal tribe of the eastern state of Odisha, is likely to receive the majority of votes when the counting begins on Thursday.
Murmu is running under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In addition to votes from her party, Murmu is expected to receive votes from other regional parties in state assemblies.
She is currently up against 84-year-old Yashwant Sinha, a former senior leader of the BJP who quit the party in 2018. He served as India’s minister of finance from 1990 until 1991 and from 1998 to 2002, and he was also the country’s minister of external affairs from 2002 until 2004.
The winner of the presidential election will replace Dalit community leader Ram Nath Kovind, with the oathtaking set to take place on Monday.
The BJP has chosen to endorse Murmu as a leader who will represent tribal communities from remote villages that are typically in need of proper educational facilities and healthcare. If Murmu wins the election, she will become the second female Indian president after Pratibha Patil. She will also make history as the first president coming from one of the many tribes in India.
“Her election will be historic,” political science student Kiran Kumar Soren told DW. “I think we need to go beyond the symbolism and cynicism that has dominated the narrative. It is good fortune for the tribal population in the country.”
Murmu, a former teacher, was a legislator in 2000 and 2009 and later became the first female governor of the eastern state of Jharkhand, a position she held from 2015 until 2021. As governor, Murmu returned the Chota Nagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act of 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act of 1949.
“I am surprised as well as delighted,” Murmu said in a statement after the BJP-led coalition announced her as a candidate last month. “As a tribal woman from remote Mayurbhanj district, I had not thought about becoming the candidate for the top post.”
India’s president is chosen by an electoral college consisting of individuals from both houses of Parliament as well as the legislative assemblies of the country’s states. Though the position is mostly ceremonial, the Indian president’s office often exhibits greater power when there are moments of political uncertainty, such as a hung parliament.
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