Droupadi Murmu on Monday took oath as the 15th President of India. Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana administered the oath of office to Murmu in the Central Hall of Parliament.
Outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind and Murmu arrived in Parliament in a ceremonial procession shortly before the swearing-in commenced. Before leaving for the swearing-in ceremony, Murmu reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan, her home and office for the next five years, where she was welcomed by Kovind and his wife Savita.
The outgoing President then escorted Murmu to the Presidential study for a brief meeting. Earlier in the morning, Murmu paid tributes to the Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, at the Rajghat.
Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Members of the Council of Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, heads of diplomatic missions, MPs and principal civil and military officers of the government were in attendance at the swearing-in ceremony.
After her swearing-in, President Murmu said her election to the top constitutional post proves that in India, the poor can not only dream but also fulfill those aspirations. “I have been elected during an important time, when the country is marking 75 years of independence,” she noted.
“Reaching this office is not my personal achievement but that of all the poor people in the country,” Murmu said. “My election is proof of the fact that in India, the poor can dream and also fulfill those dreams,” she said.
“It is the power of India’s democracy that a girl born in a poor tribal home could reach the topmost constitutional post,” Murmu added. In her speech, the President stressed on speeding up efforts to meet the expectations that freedom fighters had from the citizens of independent India.
Meanwhile, earlier in the month, social activist Medha Patkar had indicated that she believes that the BJP had fielded Murmu as the NDA’s presidential candidate only because the community forms a major part of the vote bank but the party is not pro-Adivasi. Wondering what could Murmu (former Jharkhand governor), who could not bring electricity to her native village, do after being elected President, Patkar had claimed that a President becomes the rubber stamp of the ruling party.
“They (the BJP) want a tribal person like her and celebrate Birsa Munda Jayanti because they know that Adivasis form a major part of the vote bank in several states like Madhya Pradesh. They cannot claim to be pro-Adivasi by not granting them forest rights and planning to hand over forests to the corporates,” Patkar had told PTI in a telephonic interview.
The founder member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) also alleged that the BJP has not implemented laws such as Jawaharlal Nehru’s Tribal Panchsheel, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act and Forest Rights Act. The Tribal Panchsheel was the guiding principle to formulate policies for the indigenous communities of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
“If they (the BJP government) truly respect the Adivasi community, they should implement the laws. They need to respect the struggle (of the tribal people) and grant them their rights and not just celebrate (tribal festivals),” she stated.