Thursday, August 18th, 2022 21:22:38

Droupadi Murmu means Inclusive Democracy

By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal
Updated: August 1, 2022 4:49 pm

The former Jharkhand Governor is the first youngest Adivasi woman to become the President of India. It may sound symbolic or even optics to some, the political significance of an Adivasi woman being the Head of the Republic cannot be overestimated. In 2017, Ram Nath Covind who belonged to the Koli Community- the most underprivileged SC sub-castes, was the second Dalit to reach the post of the President of India. Murmu is a Santhal Adivasi.Murmu struggled all her life but succeeded in raising her children and becoming the foremost social and political worker. As a legislator, she successfully proved her mettle as a Minister in Odisha, and thereafter as the Governor of Jharkhand.

Although, it is yet to be seen whether her win would help the BJP make inroads into the tribal vote bank, the Party seems to have won a moral high ground. The election of a tribal woman as President is a step in the right direction, for much is needed to enable the tribals get rid of the injustice done to them- as they still remain vulnerable to physical, sexual, economic and emotional exploitation.

This symbolism cannot be ignored because it is a major step towards making politics inclusive and achieving social justice. Now the other Political Parties including the Opposition need to recalibrate their stand, and shakes politics out of its slumber. It also pushes political analysts to search for a new lens to view the Party they believe is avowedly ‘upper caste’.

The win of Murmu has strengthened the inclusive Dharma of Democracy. Two successful NDA’s candidates in the past who made to Rashtrapati Bhavan emphasized inclusivity, and were the most suitable candidates to hold the top constitutional post- The Missile Man APJ Abdul Kalam whose life was a living testimony to the Indian tradition of pursuit of knowledge and humility, andthe most humble and democratic Ram Nath Covindopened the doors of Rastrapati Bhavan for the people while being most courteous in his conduct and the discharge of duty. Political commentators’ constant criticism to bracket him as BJP’s Dalit bet could not work because he eventually proved that he could conduct the constitutional duties efficiently.

The BJP has long been pursuing the inclusive agenda. In 1996, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee government fell in 13 days despite BJP being the largest Party, it had the largest number of the tribal MPs in its ranks. As a matter of fact, right from the beginning the BJP’s abiding principle has been to take all sections of society ahead with foremost commitment. Murmu’s win has happened at a time when Narendra Modi led government has given a hope to the tribals in the country by taking the Prime Minister’s mantra of ‘SabkaSath, Sabka Viswas aur Sabka Prayas to every nook and corner of the country including the tribal dominated States of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The adherence to the mantra in spirit has almost put a full-stop to the violence that cost several lives of paramilitary forces in the tribal belt; now no one talks about the Red Corridor connecting the hotbed of Maoist violence in Nepal to the deep forest in Sukma of Chhattigarh as was seriously discussed during the regime of United Progressive Alliance when Maoist extremism was at its peak.

NDA Government’s honest efforts for tribal development have made them turn their backs to violence.  It was right from the outset that the NDA government set out for course correction and gave hope to the tribal people that they have better future in the mainstream  society and can reap the benefits of the schemes without paying bribes. For instance, the Aspirational District Program of the Central Government has been envisioned with clear objective that the gains of the development must reach the poorest of the poor. The tribals have been brought to mainstream economy with financial inclusion, pucca houses with toilets, pension schemes and so on. They need not fall for the allurements of the evangelists to embrace their religion; it is, however, a fact that a lot remains to be done so that the tribal conversion ends. When Murmu is all set to assume the Office of the President of India, the tribal see the fulfilment of their political aspirations; they find that one from among them is the First Citizen of the Country.

Murmu’s elevation to the Office of the President of India is the firm democratic empowerment of both the tribal population and women of the country. Besides, she is seen as a spiritual person with her association with Brahmakumaris. She stands for simplicity and spirituality. People know her humility; she was sweeping the floor of a temple a day after her name was announced by the BJP president JP Nadda. Murmu is a hope for the people of this country that all hardships can be won over with honesty and patience. She is a Constitutionalist, a firm believer in the Indian Constitution’s capacity to fulfill the aspirations of all sections of society. Her life is a testimony of perseverance.  By nominating Murmu as Presidential Candidate and through her subsequent win, Narendra Modi led Government has contributed towards fulfilling the dreams of our Constitution Makers who dreamt that one day the elevated Office of the President of India would be held by the person who stands last in the queue; on the occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, there cannot be a greater tribute to our Freedom Fighters than this. PM Modi has also tweeted, “At a time when 1.3 billion Indians are marking Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, a daughter of India hailing from tribal community born in remote part of eastern India has been elected our President!”

The Opposition has alleged that the strategic elevation of leaders from Dalits and OBC Castes to the positions of power by BJP has created an image of inclusiveness hiding their otherwise exclusionist Brahminical agenda; the Opposition’s narrative is that Murmu shall never be able to intervene to safeguard the interests of Adivasis against the Modi’s state and its ‘cronies’.

They, however, deliberately forget the fact as to how Murmu asserted herself as Governor to safeguard the interests of tribals even by refusing her approval for some of the Bills (which were against the tribal interests) and returning them to the Legislature.

India has scripted history with a daughter from a tribal community to be elevated to the office of the President of India. DroupadiMurmu’s election represents BJP’s commitment to the empowerment of tribals. Her exemplary motivates each and every citizen of the country. She has emerged as a ray of hope for the poor, marginalized and the downtrodden. Draupadi Murmu would certainly prove herself as outstanding President and strengthen the development journey of the country.

By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal
(The writer is Professor & Head, Department of English, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner.)

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