SEVEN YEARS after being sworn in as the first woman Governor of Jharkhand, Droupadi Murmu’s political career has taken another key turn.
On Tuesday, the 64-year-old two-time BJP MLA and former Odisha minister from Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj was nominated by the NDA as its candidate for the presidential polls next month, setting the stage for her to be the first tribal woman President.
In Jharkhand, officials and politicians describe her as a “compassionate and balanced” administrator who remained “accessible and down to earth” — and recall two key junctures where she played a crucial role in allaying fears among tribals while “giving proper directions” to the government.
Ratan Tirkey, former Tribes Advisory Council member, said: “While I was the member, the Pathalgadi movement and the attempted tweaking of the tenancy Acts had created distrust among tribals. We approached the Governor to hold talks with tribal leaders and take them into confidence for better communication with the government. Sense prevailed and she spoke with the government to do damage control.”
According to Tirkey, Murmu used to ask officials to “bring one topic to discuss” with her and “encouraged debate and discussions” on it.
Jharkhand’s BJP media co-incharge Ashok Baraik, who frequently visited Raj Bhavan during the previous BJP government’s tenure, said: “It was the first time that tribals could easily meet the Governor. She will definitely work to uplift the tribal community in the country.”
Hailing from the Santhal community, Murmu entered Odisha politics by serving as councillor in the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat after winning elections in 1997, and as president of the BJP’s Scheduled Tribes Morcha in the state.
She was elected as an MLA from Rairangpur in 2000 and 2009. She managed to win in 2009 even as the BJP paled against the challenge put up by the by-then estranged BJD.
During the BJP-BJD coalition government that came to power in 2000, she held the Commerce and Transport, and, subsequently, the Fisheries and Animal Husbandry portfolios.
In 2015, she was sworn in as the Governor of Jharkhand.
In her personal life, however, Murmu has seen much tragedy, losing her husband Shyam Charan Murmu and two sons. She has a married daughter.
Murmu holds a BA degree and has served as a junior assistant in the irrigation and power department in the Odisha government. She has also served as a teacher in Rairangpur.