Droupadi Murmu sworn in as India’s first tribal president

New Delhi, July 25 (EFE).- Droupadi Murmu was sworn in on Monday as the 15th president of India, becoming the first tribal and second woman to occupy the country’s highest office.

“I express my heartfelt gratitude to all the MPs and all the members of the legislative assemblies for electing me to the highest constitutional post of India,” Murmu said in a speech after being sworn-in by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.

“It is a matter of great satisfaction for me that those who have been deprived for centuries, who have been deprived of the benefits of development, those poor, Dalit, backward and tribal (people) are seeing their reflection in me,” she said.

Murmu replaces Ram Nath Kovind, who in 2017 was the second person from the marginalized Dalit community to occupy the top constitutional post after KR Narayanan (1997–2002).

Like her predecessor, Murmu was nominated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

The party’s parliamentary majority allowed Murmu to start as the favorite in last week’s vote by the members of the two houses of the Indian parliament and the regional assemblies.

Her nomination for the post was viewed as an attempt to reach out to the discriminated Adivasi community, which accounts for 8.6 percent of the population of this country of some 1.4 billion.

The 64-year old’s nomination contrasted with repeated allegations against the government of favoring deforestation and mining in resource-rich forest areas historically inhabited by tribal communities.

She is country’s youngest president and the first to be born in independent India.

Murmu was born in a family of the Santhal community in the eastern state of Odisha, and rose through the BJP’s ranks in regional politics while advocating the rights of the tribal community in her state.

A year after Modi first assumed office in 2014, Murmu – dubbed “Odisha’s daughter” – was appointed as the governor of the state of Jharkhand, a post that she held until 2021.

The president has a mainly formal and symbolic role in the government as per the Indian constitution, with the prime minister vested with the key powers to head the executive. EFE


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