Indian lawmakers to vote-in next president as tribal woman heads the race

New Delhi, Jul 18 (EFE).- Around 4,800 national and regional lawmakers of India are on Monday set to elect the next president of the country to replace incumbent Ram Nath Kovind through polls in which Droupadi Murmu seems all set to become the first tribal woman to occupy the post.

Voting for the elections began at 10 am on Monday in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the parliament), Rajya Sabha (upper house), and regional assemblies, although the results would not be announced until Thursday.

Murmu, 64, was born in a family of the Santhal tribe in the eastern state of Odisha, and has been backed by the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As the BJP enjoys a majority in the parliament and heads several provincial governments, Murmu is a clear favorite to become the next president.

BJP’s national president Jagat Prakash Nadda tweeted that Murmu’s candidature “is a defining moment for India & the most glorious moment in our quest for social justice & transformation.”

The opposition’s candidate Yashwant Sinha served as the finance and foreign minister in BJP-led governments between 1999 and 2004, although he later left the party to join the Trinamool Congress, a regional party that is in power in the state of West Bengal.

In an open letter to Indian lawmakers, Sinha wrote on Sunday that the elections were not about the candidates’ identity but their ideology and the ideals they represent.

He accused the BJP of carrying out “daily attacks on democracy” and establishing a “majoritarian supremacy” in the Hindu majority country, over the minorities.

The results of the presidential polls will be announced on Thursday and India’s 15th president since its independence from the British in 1947 would assume office on Jul. 25.

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


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