Draupadi Murmu on July 21 scripted history by becoming the first from the tribal community to be elected as the president of India.
Murmu, a tribal Santhal leader from Odisha, was nominated by the ruling BJP-led NDA and defeated the opposition-backed candidate Yashwant Sinha.
Earlier in 2012, Meghalaya leader late Purno Agitok Sangma had contested for the top post. Sangma’s candidature was proposed by AIADMK and BJD, and later, supported by BJP. However, he lost to Congress-backed candidate Pranab Mukherjee.
Although, Sangma failed to win the present election but prophesied that “soon India would have a tribal president”.
In 1992, late George Gilbert Swell, a tribal Khasi from the eastern part of Meghalaya, was nominated as the presidential candidate by the BJP and other opposition parties with the Congress in power. Swell lost to Congress’ Shankar Dayal Sharma, securing only 346,485 votes against his opponent’s 675,864 votes.
On July 21, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma termed Murmu’s victory a “historic”.
“It was indeed a great and historic moment in the history of this country where the president’s post is now being held by a tribal woman. And this was something that was in some ways, inconceivable many, many years back. And today, the fact that this is happening shows how this great condition of ours is moving forward in the right direction and I would like to thank all the people who voted for Murmu to become the president of this country,” Conrad Sangma said.
The chief minister also thanked prime minister Narendra Modi and other leaders for Draupadi Murmu’s victory.
“At this point in time, I also remember my late father (PA Sangma) who was somebody who truly believed in this and was a person who laid the foundation for this idea and this thought and today to see it. He would have been the proudest person in this country today,” he said
Meanwhile, apart from the Northeast, several states having large tribal populations would have reason to smile.
According to reports, India has the second highest concentration of tribal population after Africa.
There are over 570 tribes in India and tribals constitute about 8 per cent of the total population in India.