By Nirendra Dev / New Delhi

A tribal woman has been elected as India’s new President and the first citizen. The 64-year-old Droupadi Murmu was on Thursday, July 21, elected President of the world’s largest democracy trouncing her rival and a senior politician Yashwant Sinha by a convincing margin.

At the end of the daylong counting of votes from the MLAs and MPs, it was declared that Murmu secured 6,76,803 votes against Sinha’s 3,80,177 votes to become India’s 15th President.

Significantly, she will succeed incumbent Rashtrapati, Ram Nath Kovind and she will be stewarding India’s fate when India will complete 75 years of its independence on August 15.

Ms Murmu was born in a little known place in the development-starved region of Mayurbhanj in Odisha and had a truly self-made career. So her elevation to the elevated office in more ways than one demonstrates truly the triumph of democracy. She will not only be India’s first tribal President but also first to be born in independent India.

Her election has been marred by hectic politicking and in the ultimate 17 opposition MPs cross-voted for Ms Murmu. Several opposition parties which otherwise are firmly against BJP kept the political differences aside and decided to back her candidature. This club includes leaders like Mayawati of BSP and even an aggrieved Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on her in the evening hours and presented a bouquet while celebration
spirit ran across the country including in her home town Rairangpur.

The Head teacher of the Government Upper Primary School where Murmu studied, recalled her school life and said that she was a brilliant student and was keen to “serve the people”.

“I would like to thank all those MPs and MLAs across party lines who have supported the candidature of Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji. Her record victory augurs well for our democracy,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha also congratulated her and hoped that she would discharge her duties as the Custodian of the Constitution without fear or favour.

Well to be President of India, one need not be a scientist or any intellectual giant. In her case the trump card was the faceless Indian tribal woman; – and of course the tag ‘people’s President’.

In her election and with such a massive mandate, shows India has made a crucial statementas the world’s largest democracy and showing immense faith in women empowerment and on the leadership ability of a tribal who came up the ladder as a self-made person.

Nagaland BJP leader Kevechutso Doulo, a tribal and a Christian, told this journalist,”Time and again, the people’s spirit and yearnings for liberty, inclusion, and pluralism have triumphed in this country. The incoming President is a tribal and a woman, making us all feel more proud of the momentous occasion”.

Some of her achievements were milestones in themselves.Born into a Santhal tribal family in 1958, she was the first girl in Uparbeda village in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district to go to a college.

Ms Murmu won an election to the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997, and served as councillor. She was elected to two terms in the Odisha Assembly in 2000 and 2004, and served as a Minister in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD-BJP coalition government.

Not a rubber stamp!

Her admirers say Ms Murmu will not be a rubber stamp President as is being alleged in certain quarters.As the first woman Governor of Jharkhand, she showed her eyes for critical observation.

In November 2016, the BJP government in Jharkhand passed amendments to two centuries-old land laws —
the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act — that would have ensured easy transfer of land for industrial use.

But she declined to sign initially and returned the Bills in June 2017 and her decision to seek state government’s clarification how the amendments would benefit tribals had earned her respect and admiration as all along she had been a saffron party foot soldier herself.