India elects first president from tribal community

India elects the first president from the country’s tribal communities. Droupadi Murmu, a 64-year-old teacher turned politician, will be the second woman to hold the largely ceremonial role as head of the republic when she takes office at the start of a five-year term. More than 4500 state and federal lawmakers voted in the presidential election on Monday and ballots were counted. Murmu beat the opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, a former BJP finance minister and now a fierce critic of Modi, winning nearly twice as many votes.

Born into a family of the Santhal tribe from the state of Odisha, Murmu started her career as a school teacher and actively participated in community issues. She later joined mainstream politics and served as a BJP state lawmaker in Odisha before becoming governor of the eastern state of Jharkhand. Her election is seen as the BJP’s outreach to India’s tribal communities, which comprise more than 8% of its 1.4 billion people.

The Indian president acts as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, but the prime minister holds executive powers. Murmu will take over from Ram Nath Kovind. The president, nevertheless, has a key role during political crises, such as when a general election is inconclusive, by deciding which party is in the best position to form a government.

Source: on the back of the release via Reuters.