SEVEN YEARS after being sworn in as Jharkhand’s first female governor, Draupadi Murmu’s political career has taken another turn.
Tuesday 64-year-old two-time BJP The MLA and a former Odisha minister from Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj were nominated by the NDA as their candidate in next month’s presidential election, setting the stage for her to become the first female tribal president.
In Jharkhand, officials and politicians describe her as a “compassionate and level-headed” administrator who remained “approachable and down to earth” – and recall two key moments in which she played a critical role in removing fears among the tribes while “giving the right direction” to the government.
Ratan Tirki, a former member of the Tribal Advisory Council, said: “While I was a member, the Patalgadi movement and the attempt to change the rent laws created mistrust among the tribes. We have asked the governor to hold negotiations with the tribal leaders and keep them confidential in order to improve communication with the government. Common sense prevailed and she spoke to the government to make amends.”
According to Tirka, Murmu asked officials to “bring one topic to discuss” with her and “encouraged debate and discussion” on it.
Ashok Baraik, BJP media co-chair of Jharkhand, who frequented Raj Bhawan during the previous BJP rule, said: “This was the first time that the tribes could easily meet with the governor. She will definitely work to improve the tribal community in the country.”
Originally from the Santhal community, Murmu entered Odisha politics, serving as an advisor to the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat after winning elections in 1997, as well as as President of the BJP Morcha Scheduled Tribes in the state.
She was elected MLA from Rairangpur in 2000 and 2009. She managed to win in 2009, even as the BJP turned pale in the face of the challenge posed by the by then estranged BZD.
During the BJP-BZD coalition government that came to power in 2000, it held the portfolios of trade and transport, and then fisheries and livestock.
In 2015, she was sworn in as Governor of Jharkhand.
However, in her personal life, Murmu experienced many tragedies, losing her husband Shyam Charan Murma and two sons. She has a married daughter.
Murmu has a bachelor’s degree and worked as a junior assistant in the Irrigation and Power Department of the Government of Odisha. She also worked as a teacher in Rairangpur.