Indian BJP nominates female tribal politician for president | Election news

If elected, Droupadi Murmu, 64, will become the country’s first tribe and second-ever female president.

A female Indian politician from a tribal community has been nominated as presidential candidate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling nationalist party.

Droupadi Murmu, 64, a veteran politician who has held senior positions in the eastern state of Odisha, will almost certainly be elected as Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a majority in parliament and is likely to gain support from other parties. to get. in state meetings, political analysts say.

The BJP chose Murmu on Tuesday at the party’s parliamentary board meeting, chaired by Modi. Party chairman JP Nadda told reporters that they felt the next president should be a female tribal candidate.

Parliamentary and state legislators vote for the president of India, who is a largely ceremonial function† The vote will take place on July 18.

Murmu was born into a family of the Santhal tribe in the eastern state of Odisha. Her father and grandfather were village chiefs in Baidaposi in the state’s Mayurbhanj district.

She started her career as a teacher and took an active part in tribal rights issues. Later, she entered mainstream politics as a BJP legislator and governor of Jharkhand state in the east.

In a tweet late Tuesday night, Modi said Murmu “devoted her life to serving society and empowering the poor, oppressed and marginalized”.

“I am confident she will be a great president of our nation,” he wrote.

If elected, Murmu will become the tribe’s first president and the second ever female president.

Journalist and political analyst Arati R Jerath told Al Jazeera that the choice of the BJP is “a very smart choice for several reasons”.

“One is that no tribe has ever held the position of president. Symbolically, this is a very important step for tribes that make up a very large part of the population,” she said.

“In addition, the choice has the potential to create divisions in the opposition, as parties like Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha have many MPs and MLAs. It becomes very difficult for those tribesmen to vote against a tribeswoman.”

Opposition appoints BJP rebels

Indian opposition parties said they would support Yashwant Sinha, a BJP rebel, as their candidate in the presidential election.

Sinha, 84, served as the country’s finance minister during the previous BJP government from 1998 to 2002. He left the right-wing party after a disagreement with Modi over economic issues in 2018.

After leaving the BJP, Sinha joined the opposition Trinamool Congress party, which he left again after being nominated as an opposition candidate for the Indian president.

“Now the time has come when for a bigger national cause I have to step back from the party to work towards greater unity of the opposition,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Jerath told Al Jazeera that the opposition’s decision to set up Sinha was “an attempt to create unity between the opposition parties”.

“But what the BJP has managed to do is that by choosing a tribal woman, it will likely divide the opposition,” she said.

The Indian Constitution provides for a largely ceremonial role for the President, with the Prime Minister and his cabinet having executive powers.

But the president plays a key role during political crises, such as when a general election is inconclusive, deciding which party is in the best position to form a federal government.

Bilal Kuchay contributed to this report from New Delhi.

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