ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A President of Presence?

India’s first tribal president reveals the potentials as well as pitfalls of representative democracy.

Droupadi Murmu has been elected as the 15th President of India after serving as the governor of Jharkhand from 2015 to 2021. Murmu’s appointment is remarkable especially against the backdrop of the varied background of her predecessors who occupied the topmost constitutional office in the country. Although it may be argued that the post of the president has always been ceremonial and lacking in effective political power, one nonetheless notices the element of a tremendous social and political churning behind the election of Murmu as India’s youngest president. It is primarily because Murmu will be the first person from the Scheduled Tribe (ST) community to ever hold the post of the President of independent India. More­over, her rise from extremely struggle-ridden conditions to the pinnacle of constitutional authority in India is sure to receive national and international attention and accolades.

President Murmu’s election also paints a grim picture of the political acumen of the opposition parties in India. The mere announcement of Murmu as the National Democratic Alliance government’s presidential candidate sparked a much-needed debate about the socio-economic and political disenfranchisement of Adivasis in India where all political parties—especially the Congress—came under the radar for not giving the Adivasi community their due in the affairs of national politics. The opposition parties could have exercised their political imagination and adhered to the norm of political representation in choosing their presidential candidate. Such a gesture—even when they lacked the necessary numbers in both the houses of Parliament—would have revealed their commitment towards reclaiming their fast-shrinking social and electoral base among the Scheduled Castes and the STs. Identities matter in a pluralistic nation like India; it speaks to the lively paradox of Indian politics that the Bharatiya Janata Party can now take credit for having given the country a Muslim, a Dalit, and an Adivasi president each.

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Updated On : 13th Aug, 2022
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