A tribal woman succeeding a Dalit in the highest office of the nation is a remarkable testimony to the deepening the roots of Indian parliamentary democracy.
New Delhi: “A better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect but to be elected.” — Michelle Bachelet, Former President of Chile.
A very powerful photo has been doing rounds in social media since morning, a tribal woman who has been nominated for the presidential elections been walking with the mighty men of Indian politics. This poignant picture has inspired tons of young woman like me, from the marginalized community to dream big. She is not only a source of inspiration for us women, her life and struggle, her determination and success in the face of unsurmountable odds represents the hope & promise of New India.
Under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi Indian parliamentary democracy has become more representative and inclusive. BJP represents New India of prosperity, equality & socio-economic mobility, reflecting the true embodiment of Samajik Samarasta.
A tribal woman succeeding a Dalit in the highest office of the nation is a remarkable testimony to the deepening the roots of Indian parliamentary democracy and is also reflective of spatial acquisition in Lutyens Delhi which was once considered a bassinet of the elites. Her nomination is not merely transactional but transformational in its true sense, wherein New India is rising above the kaleidoscopic vision of inclusivity.
Ambedkar’s idea of synthesis and representation of women in politics has come to a reality. Born in 1958, is a politician from Santhal tribe ethnic group of Mayurbhanj district in Odisha. Santhals known for their bravery and courage who waged war against the permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis in 1855. In the history of India their struggle in known as Santhal rebellion against exploitive British Government. Murmu ji coming from the brave clan of the Santhals has shown utmost grit and courage in her life as she has fought many battles for empowerment of the marginalised. She was a teacher and joined the BJP in 1997. She was a Minister in Odisha and the Governor of Jharkhand between 2015 and 2021. Her political efficacy and electoral acumen has pushed politics of the margins from the edges of tokenism to the mainstream. Her nomination by the BJP signifies the party’s sustained efforts to incorporate tribal communities politically and culturally.
Prime Minister Modi’s personal signature on the decision is unmistakable and is in line with his relentless efforts to expand the BJP’s social base wide and far and achieve the ideals of social cohesion and Justice. The party has expanded its electoral based among all social groups and communities in an effective way. The marginalized groups are accommodated with dignity and pride not just for social engineering and tokenism.
Coming from a humble background, she has faced much hardship in her life. In a February 2020 interview, she spoke about her political journey. “I come from the poorest of the poor families and never expected I will take up politics. I had plans to study and get a regular job to support my family financially. However, there have been several incidents in my life that led to me quitting my job.” She says, “I started as a teacher without pay and later worked with social organizations to uplift villagers hailing from the remotest parts of Odisha.” Murmu ji has defied odds and cultural stigmas to serve the people, battling stereotypes generally associated with a career in politics. “I come from a society that is very rigid when it comes to perceptions about women, and they would raise questions on any woman stepping outside the confines of their homes. They, generally, perceive politics as a dirty business,” she had said. In 2009,2013 she lost two sons respectively, at the early age she has lost her husband, later brother, and mother, she was devastated and suffered from depression, in that juncture she holds to spiritual path practicing Brahma Kumari, Yoga and Meditation and social service was new life mission for her. She is a fighter and source of inspiration to many.
Due to the lack of local, state, and national representation of women in power girls and women don’t have inspirational role-models they can aspire to be. Her position as First person of the country not only give hope to the margined but also to women who are considered second class citizens in the country. Now we have a role model to aspire of. Her rise on a national podium is ray of hope for me and to all young woman across the nation. Even America considered the bastion of progressiveness and a modern nation state has not ever had a black woman as a president. Her nomination for me goes beyond the politics of representation and tokenism , I have a role model now.
(Dr Aditi Narayani Paswan is Assistant Professor, Sociology, Maitreyi College University of Delhi and founder of Dalit Adivasi Professors and Scholars Association )