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#Presidential Polls2022Ground Report : Rairangpur is all set to celebrate for its own Droupadi Didi

With regional parties like the BJD, the YSR-CP, the BSP, the AIADMK, the TDP, the JD(S), the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Shiv Sena and the JMM- supporting the NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu , she is set to become the first woman from the tribal community to occupy the country’s highest constitutional post. The Presidential polls will be held on 18 July and the results will be announced on 21 July. Murmu, who was also the first from tribal community to be the Governor of Jharkhand (2015-2021), has traversed a long way.

Born on June 20, 1958, Murmu had her early education in Uperbeda, a village under Kusumi block of Odisha’s tribal dominated Mayurbhanj district. She completed her high school and college education at Bhubaneswar. She also worked as a clerk in a state government department, before returning to Rairangpur, the sub divisional town, twenty kilometers from Uperbeda.

At Rairangpur, she taught for four years as an honorary teacher at a private school. From 1997, began her political career. She became a councilor in Rairangpur NAC and went on to serve as the vice chairperson. In 2000, on a BJP ticket she successfully contested from the Rairangpur assembly seat. She was an MLA for two times, had a stint as minister (2000-2004) in the Naveen Patnaik led Biju Janata Dal (BJD)-BJP coalition government. From 2015-2021, Murmu was the governor of Jharkhand. However, during her journey, she has suffered many personal losses. In just six years, between 2009 and 2015, she lost her husband Shyam Charan Murmu, two sons, mother and brother.

Despite the tragedies, she remained committed to the service of the people. Murmu’s daughter, Itishree works with a bank. Residents of Rairangpur remember her as an extremely humble, courteous person who respects all including opponents and is accessible. “She always tries to help others,” puts a senior advocate at the Rairangpur court.

Murmu’s teacher at the Uperbeda Middle English school, Basudev Behera, 72, narrates a story. He says, those days the students at his school couldn’t afford books. So, the school ran a book bank. Books donated by those who passed out of the class was collected and provided to the next batch of students.

Picture Credit : Debi Mohanty – Basudev Behera, Droupadi Murmu’s teacher at Uperbeda School

“Droupadi, too, borrowed some books, she had also purchased some new books. But, when she left the school after seventh class, much to our disbelief, she not only returned the old books but presented her new books as well. It happened for the first time in my tenure in the school,” Behera, who retired in 2010, claims. “She always tried to extend support to her classmates,” Behera who lives in Tentoposi village, just next to Uperbeda, adds.

Following the announcement of her name as the presidential candidate, a sense of excitement has gripped the Rairangpur, Uperbeda and their surrounding localities. Preparations for celebrations have been made, in the words of locals “for the historic occasion”.

“The tribals will enjoy with their traditional dance, music. In Rairangpur, lots of sweets will be distributed also there will be fire crackers. Everyone wants to celebrate and remember the day,” tells Pradeep Rout, 60, a resident of Rairangpur.

According to Manoranjan Murmu, headmaster, Uperbeda upper primary school, where Droupadi Murmu was a student, they have plans for debate, painting and song completion among the students. Sweets will be distributed among the students.

Equally excited are the students and staff of SLS Memorial residential school in Pahadpur village under Kusumi block. Pahadpur is the village of Murmu’s late husband Shyam Charan Murmu, who worked with a bank. Set up by Murmu in memory of her husband and two sons, in 2016, the school has around one hundred students (6th to 10th standard). Muna Pratihari, 44, who looks after the day to day affair of the school says, Didi (Murmu) had donated her land for the institution. “All, students, teachers and other staff, reside in the campus,” informs Pratihari. Headmaster Janmejaya Giri says that Murmu is very fond of students and regularly visits the school, she was here on June 18. The students also look forward to her visit.

Picture Credit Debi Mohanty : School At Droupadi Murmu’s village where she was a student

According to the students of the school, every time Murmu visits the school, she doesn’t forget to carry something-sweets, fruits, chocolates etc. for them. “She spends time and interacts with the students. They call her Didi (sister),” informs, Giri. He also tells that, the first batch of his students passed matriculation examination the results of which were announced last week. “All our twenty students have secured first division,” beams Giri.

When Murmu was the governor of Jharkhand, the students of the school had gone on an excursion to Ranchi. Ninth graders, Sarojini Dalei, Pragyan Parimita Dhal and Pallavi Giri treasure the fond memories of the trip. They say, throughout the bus journey, they had a lot of fun. “We chatted, had antakshari, discussions and so on till we reached Ranchi,” they recall. At Ranchi, their stay had been arranged, as they recall, at Krishak Bhawan. They cherish their experiences of their visit to the Patratu Dam and zoo etc.

The highpoint of trip was their visit to the Raj Bhavan. “There were varieties of snacks including samosas, aloo chops, rolls etc,” remembers Dhal as other nod their heads.

Picture Credit Debi Mohanty : Students at SLS Memorial School

When they met Didi, they paid their respects with folded hands. Murmu interacted with all, asked if they had any issue and whether they were enjoying the trip. Also she asked them about their studies. The students had a lovely lunch at the Raj Bhavan. “Didi gifted all of us with pens, books, geometry boxes. We can’t forget the experience,” they say in unison.

Not only, are they confident of their Didi’s victory, they also hope, that they will get a chance to visit India’s capital city and see with their own eyes the India Gate, Qutab Minar, Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Mughal garden inside it, about which they have read in books.

Murmu’s career seems to have inspired scores of young minds, the students of this school included. Sarojini intends to study hard and take up a career in nursing while Pallavi Giri nurtures the dream of joining the police service post education. “I will study hard and be a doctor. That’s my dream,” shares Pragyan.

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