Tribal woman likely to be India’s next ceremonial president

NEW DELHI — A woman who represents India’s poor tribal community is likely to become the country’s next president after the ruling Bharatiya Janata party chooses Draupadi Murmu as its candidate.

The presidency is a ceremonial position and the election of Murmu, 64, is a formality with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in a strong position to build support for her among lawmakers representing parliament and the state legislature.

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

A divided opposition named Yashwant Sinha, a BJP rebel, to challenge Murmu in the election. Sinha, 84, was the country’s finance minister during the previous BJP government from 1998 to 2002. He left the party after a disagreement with Modi over economic issues in 2018.

The vote will take place on July 18.

In India, the prime minister is the head of government and has the executive power, and the president usually follows the prime minister’s advice as long as it is constitutional.

Murmu, a member of Modi’s BJP, is from eastern Odisha state and was governor of Jharkhand state.

Modi tweeted on Tuesday: “Droupadi Murmu has dedicated her life to serving society and empowering the poor, oppressed and the marginalized.”

Murmu’s father and her grandfather were village chiefs in Baidaposi of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha.

Tribes are generally poor and lack health care and educational facilities in remote Indian villages. India’s tribal communities have developed their traditions and economies in accordance with the available natural resources.

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