India elects tribal candidate Droupadi Murmu as president

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Murmu’s election to the largely ceremonial role was considered a certainty because of the strength of the ruling BJP and its allies in the parliament and state assemblies.

Droupadi Murmu, a woman from India’s tribal minority, has been elected as the country’s president by legislators.

The 64-year-old politician, who is from the Santhal tribe, secured the largely ceremonial position with the support of more than half the electorate of MPs and state legislators, partial results released by the election commission showed.

More than 4,500 state and federal lawmakers voted in the presidential election on Monday and ballots were counted on Thursday. Murmu’s victory was assured as she was backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which dominates federal and state politics.

Modi visited the teacher-turned-politician in New Delhi and presented her with a bouquet of flowers. He also tweeted his congratulations, saying 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.”

Murmu’s closest rival, the opposition-backed Yashwant Sinha – an ex-member of the BJP and former finance and external affairs minister – also tweeted his congratulations.

“India hopes that as the 15th President of the Republic she functions as the custodian of the Constitution without fear or favour,” Sinha wrote.

 

Agencies

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