Rise of murmur
Uperbeda is a small tribal village about 10 kms from Rairangapur town in Odisha ‘s Mayurbhanj district . A large crowd has been gathering in the courtyard of Droupadi Murmu‘s house since early morning on Monday . They were anxiously watching the TV placed there for that very moment. When Murmu took oath as the President of India , the whole village erupted in joy by bursting crackers and distributing sweets. The whole village was agog with cries of Droupadi Murmu Zindabad when she recited famous Odia tribal Saint poet Bhima Bhoi’s famous assertion ‘Mo Jibana Pachhe Narke Padithau, Jagata Udhara Heu (let my life remain inglorious, let the world achieve salvation) while addressing the nation after swearing in as the 15th President of India .
Bhima Bhoi (1850–1895) was a saint, poet and philosopher . He was a devotee of Mahima Swamy (commonly referred to as Mahima Gosain and whose birth name is said to have been Mukunda Das). From Mahima Swamy, Bhima Bhoi would receive initiation into Mahima Dharma, an Indian religious tradition that challenged the authority of caste Hinduism on its own terms. Bhima Bhoi’s family belonged to the Khond tribe. Bhoi’s family was not well off and by most accounts his early life was not a happy one. His father died when he was quite young. His mother remarried and had children with her new husband soon after. Bhima Bhoi was a great poet, composer and singer. Humanity and liberation of the world were the central themes of his poetic creations. Droupadi won the hearts of millions of tribal people by reciting the poems of Bhoi, said Bhaskar Tudu of Rairangapur.
The villagers had earlier held special prayers for Murmu ‘ win and once they were answered, celebrated it with much fanfare on Thursday .
Like Uperbeda village , Rairangpur town where Draupadi has been residing since more than four decades erupted in joy after she became the 15th President of India.
The joy of locals in Rairangapur town where Drupadi first brushed with politics three decades back by becoming the ward councilor of Rairangpur civic body of Mayurbhanj district knew no bounds as they rejoiced for the achievement of Murmu.
Odisha erupted in joy after she took oath as the President of India. Laddoos and sweets were being distributed in the village amid beats of dhol and dance by tribal people wearing colourful dresses and traditional gears.
Droupadi Murmu was born in a Santali tribal family on June 20, 1958, in Uparbeda village of Mayurbhanj district in Odisha, to Biranchi Narayan Tudu. Both her father and grandfather were elected as sarpanch under the Panchayati Raj system Draupadi Murmu married Shyam Charan Murmu, a banker, who died in 2014. The couple had two sons, both of whom are dead, and a daughter. She lost her husband and two sons in a span of 4 years.
Murmu started out as a school teacher before entering state politics. She worked as an assistant professor at the Shri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research Institute, Rairangpur and as a Junior Assistant at the irrigation department of the Government of Odisha.
Murmu joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1997 and was elected as the councilor of the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat. Murmu became the vice -chairperson of Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 2000. She also served as the national vice-president of BJP Scheduled Tribes Morcha.
During the BJP and Biju Janata Dal coalition government in Odisha, she was the Minister of State with Independent Charge for Commerce and Transportation from March 6, 2000, to August 6, 2002, and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development from August 6, 2002, to May 16, 2004. She is former Odisha Minister and an MLA from Rairangpur Assembly constituency in the years 2000 and 2004. She was conferred Nilkantha Award for best MLA by Odisha Legislative Assembly in 2007.
In 2000, she was first time elected to the state assembly from Rairangapur as a candidate of BJP with the support of BJP by defeating Congress candidate Laxman Majhi by a margin of 4568 votes . Droupadi polled 25,110 votes whereas the Congress candidate got 20,542 votes. In 2004, Droupadi was reelected from Rairangpur by defeating JMM candidate Ramachandra Murmu by a wafer-thin margin of 42 votes. Droupadi polled 29,295 whereas the JMM candidate received 29,253 votes. In 2009, the saffron party did not give her party ticket to Droupadi to contest from Rairangapur after BJD snapped its ties with BJP. In 2014, Droupadi experienced her first defeat as she was defeated by BJD candidate Saiba Sushil Kumar Hansdah by a margin of 6,383 . The BJD candidate got 51,062 whereas BJP candidate Droupadi polled 44,679 votes.
Her defeat in 2014 was a blessing for her as in 2015 she was appointed as the governor of Jharkhand where she worked from 2015 to 2021. She was not a rubber stamp as Droupadi returned two anti- tribal bills related to amendments in Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949, and Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 when she was the governor of Jharkhand. Chief Minister Raghubar Das, managed to pass two bills related to amendments in both the Acts. Large numbers of tribal people and others opposed both the bills for which Droupadi returned both the bills , forcing the government to drop both the bills . The amendments to the two Acts would have given the government more powers to acquire tribal lands.
As per 1951 census, 5.6% of the total population of the country was tribal. According to Census-2011, the number of scheduled tribes in India is 10, 42, 81,034. It is 8.6% of the total population of India. A total of 9, 38, 19,162 people belonging to scheduled tribes reside in rural areas whereas 1, 04, 61,872 people in urban areas. The scheduled tribes are 11.3% of the total population of rural areas and 2.8% of urban areas. There are about 550 tribes in India.
Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where Assembly polls are due next together have 128 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes, of which the BJP had won just 35 seats last time . The emphatic victory of Droupadi will help BJP to garner more votes of tribal people in the coming polls, said Baijayant Jay Panda the national vice-president of BJP.
The saffron party ‘s base eroded in the tribal dominated states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh as a result the party lost powers in both the states in the last polls . Now BJP won the hearts of tribal people after the victory of Droupadi , added Panda.
Many BJP leaders believe that the saffron party will get more tribal votes in Odisha after Murmu reaches Raisina Hills. But many political observers differed with the BJP leaders.
In 2019, BJP performed surprisingly well in the tribal dominated regions of Odisha. The Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat was held by BJD in 2009 and 2014 elections. But BJP candidate Bishweswar Tudu won this prestigious seat in the last election. Of the nine assembly constituencies in Mayurbhanj district, BJP representatives hold six while three other seats are held by BJD. Droupadi hails from Mayurbhanj district. In a major Cabinet reshuffle of the Narendra Modi government, Tudu was inducted as the Minister of State, Ministry of Jal Shakti and Tribal Affairs, Government of India last year. In the Gram Panchayat poll, BJP won 49 Zilla Parishad seats out of 56 seats in Mayurbhanj district in 2017 . But in 2022 , BJD swept the rural poll by winning 53 zilla parishad seats in the district and JMM won three seats . BJP scored a blank even after Tudu became union minister . So the victory of Draupadi will not help BJP to garner more voters of tribal people, said Rabi Das, a senior journalist of Odisha.
BJP and BJD are vying with each other to take credit for the victory of Drupadi in Odisha with political motives. Naveen Patnaik supported her candidature immediately from Rome when BJP announced her name for the post of President . Naveen is now the passive partner of NDA to save the leaders of BJD and himself from the covetous and avaricious eyes of CBI , ED and other central agencies as many leaders of BJD are involved in mining, chit fund and other scams in the state, said Janardan Pati a senior CPM leader of Odisha.
By Ashis Senapati