A tribal lady Draupadi Murmu has been elected as India’s new president.
Footage from the capital shows a number of supporters as they celebrate the election results.
Murmu, 64, is the first Adivasi and second woman to become the nation’s First Citizen along with the president of India – the highest constitutional post in the country.
The term of incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind will end on July 24.
Unlike the prime minister, who is elected directly by the people as a member of parliament, the president in India is indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of the 776 members of both houses of parliament, and 4,033 members of 28 provincial assemblies and centrally administered territories with legislatures.
The value of votes cast by elected members of the provincial legislative assemblies is determined by the population of the particular province. Similarly, the value of an MP’s vote is calculated by dividing the total value of all provincial legislatures’ votes by the number of MPs. The assembly members of smaller states thus have the lesser value of their votes and those with higher populations possess greater value.
Therefore, 4,896 elected members of parliament and state legislatures with a total voting value of 1.086 million will vote for the next president. The winning candidate will need to cross the threshold of 543,216 votes.
Murmu who hailed from eastern Odisha state started her career as a teacher before joining politics. She was a BJP legislator as well. The 64-year-old woman in the past also served as vice-president of the ruling party’s tribal wing.
Contesting against the Murmu was Yashwant Sinha, a senior Indian politician, who has headed finance and foreign ministries in the past.
Sinha, 84, who was also a member of India’s ruling BJP and the country’s foreign minister from 2002-2004 parted ways and has become a strong critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies. He recently joined the opposition Trinamool Congress (TMC) which is governing the West Bengal state.
While the president in India is just an ornamental and ceremonial post, he leads all the constitutional entities and is also the supreme commander of the armed forces. All bills passed by the parliament can become laws only after receiving the assent of the president, as per the law.
The role of the president becomes crucial in case the parties fail to secure a simple majority in the elections and seek to form alliances or a minority government. Since the president appoints the prime minister and ensures that the person commands the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house), his role becomes vital in politically critical times.