Droupadi Murmu: First Tribal President of India

22 Jul 2022  Read 10596 Views

India scripted history after Droupadi Murmu became the first tribal President of India. Her election as a President was absolutely one- sided and was not contested at all. On defeating the Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, she also became the second woman President of India. The Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha was with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress who was picked up as a candidate after Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Pawar & Gopakrishna Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson) refused to run for the post. In this article, we will be running through her early life & career, struggles, political career and many more.

Early life and Career

Droupadi Murmu has been a pioneer from a very young age. She was born in a Santhal family in 1958 and was the first girl in Uparbeda to go to college i.e.; the Ramadevi Women’s College, now the Ramadevi Women’s University in Bhubaneswar. Uparbeda is one of the seven revenue villages in Uparbeda Panchayat in Odisha’s backward district, Mayurbhanj.

Murmu, who is presently 64 as of 2022, is the second former member of BJP to become an Indian President after Pres. Ram Nath Kovind. She is also the youngest President ever that is a month younger than Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, who assumed office in 1977. Let’s take a ride of her early life with the help of a timeline:

1958: Droupadi Murmu was born.

1971: Completed her primary education (up to Class VII) from Uparbeda UPME School, Mayurbhanj

1974: Completed high school education from Capital Girls’ High School, Unit-II, Bhubaneswar

1979: Completed her graduation from Rama Devi Women’s College

1979: Started working as junior assistant in the department of irrigation and power under Odisha government

1981: Tied knot with Shyam Charan Murmu, a banker

1994: Started teaching at the Sri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research Center, Rairangpur

1997: Joined the BJP and became the councilor of Rairangpur NAC

2000: Elected to the assembly on a BJP ticket from Rairangpur constituency

Until 2004: She served as commerce and transport minister and later as fisheries and animal resources development minister in Naveen Patnaik’s first term as CM of the state.

2004: She was re-elected as Rairangpur MLA

2007: Received the Best MLA of the Year award

Until 2009: Since 2006, she served as the Odisha BJP ST Morcha President

2013-2015: She became the Mayurbhanj district President of the BJP

2015-2021: She served as the Governor of Jharkhand.

2022: First Tribal President of India

Votes Pulled by Presidents in India

Going with the flow, let’s check out the votes pulled out by each of the Presidents to date.

Polling date

Name of the Elected Winners

Votes polled (%)

Main rival

May 2, 1952

Rajendra Prasad

507,400 (83.8)

KT Shah

May 6, 1957

Rajendra Prasad

459,698 (98.99)

NN Das

May 7, 1962

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

553,067 (98.25)

Hari Ram

May 6, 1967

Zakir Hussain

471,244 (56.2)

K Subbarao

August 16, 1969

V.V Giri

401,515 (48.01)

N Sanjiva Reddy

August 17, 1974

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed

785,587 (80.18)

T Chaudhuri

August 6, 1977

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy



July 12, 1982

Zail Singh

754,113 (72.73)

HR Khanna

July 13, 1987

Ramaswamy Venkataraman

740,148 (72.79)

V Krishna Iyer

July 13, 1992

Shankar Dayal Sharma

675,804 (65.86)

GG Swell

July 14, 1997

K. R. Narayanan

956,290 (94.9)

TN Seshan

July 15, 2002

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

922,884 (89.5)

Lakshmi Sehgal

July 22, 2007

Pratibha Patil

638,116 (58.1)

BS Shekhawat

July 22, 2012

Pranab Mukherjee

713,763 (68.12)

PA Sangma

July 20, 2017

Ram Nath Kovind

702,044 (66)

Meira Kumar

July 21, 2022

Droupadi Murmu

676,803 (64.03)

Yashwant Sinha

Source-Rashtrapati Bhawan

Murmu’s Political Career

Droupadi Murmu won the Presidential election by a margin of 947 votes, bagging 64. 03% of the electoral college votes against Yashwant Sinha’s share of 35. 97%. She got votes from a total of 2,824 electors, including 540 MPs, while Sinha won the support of 1,877 electors, including 208 MP.

  • From the timeline depicted above, it is clear that Murmu won an election to the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997, and served as councilor. 

  • She was elected to two terms in the Odisha Assembly in 2000 and 2004, and served as a Minister from 2000 to 2004 in CM’s Naveen Patnaik’s BJD-BJP coalition government.

  • She held the portfolio of Commerce and Transport then, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry in the state government. 

  • As Odisha’s Transport Minister, she was credited with having set up transport offices in all 58 sub- divisions of the state. 

  • Droupadi Murmu also served as Vice-President of the BJP’s Scheduled Tribes Morcha.

Tribal issues in India- Role of the Adivasi leader

In India, major problems faced by the tribal community (Adivasi) are poverty, exploitation, economic & technological backwardness, Socio-cultural handicaps, assimilation problems & illiteracy. Murmu being a Santhal leader and an inspirational figure for her community (for all women too) has mostly emphasized on such issues that are faced by Adivasis in India. 

In 2018, speaking at an international conference on financial inclusion, Murmu who was then a Governor stated that even though the Jharkhand state government (then,  headed by the BJP) and the Center were working for the betterment of the community and for the benefits of banking services and other schemes to tribals, the condition of SCs and STs still “remain extremely poor”. She also talked about the translation of literature on Adivasi languages and culture.


The counting process for the votes in the Presidential election continued for more than 10 hours and in the end, the returning officer P C Mody declared Murmu as the winner and said that she got 6,76,803 votes against Sinha's 3,80,177 votes. Interestingly, Droupadi Murmu is the first President to be born after independence and is the youngest to occupy the President’s post. We wish that she becomes an outstanding President who will lead from the front and strengthen India's development journey as presumed by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 275 Post(s)

She is a Legal Content Manager at Finology Legal! With a Masters in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), a BBA.LL.B from ITM University, and patent analyst training from IIPTA, she truly specializes in her field. Her passion for IPR and Criminal laws is evident from her advanced certification in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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