Ethnic minority woman likely to be voted Indian president

FILE- India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party's presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu, greets well wishers who called on her at Raigangpur in Odisha, India, June 22, 2022. Lawmakers began voting Monday to choose India’s next president in an election expected to be won by Murmu. (AP Photo, File)

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FILE- India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party's presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu, greets well wishers who called on her at Raigangpur in Odisha, India, June 22, 2022. Lawmakers began voting Monday to choose India’s next president in an election expected to be won by Murmu. (AP Photo, File)

Lawmakers are voting for India’s next president in an election expected to be won by a woman from India’s ruling party who hails from a minority ethnic community

NEW DELHI (AP) — Lawmakers began voting Monday to choose India’s next president in an election expected to be won by a woman from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party who hails from a minority ethnic community.

The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. She is also likely to get the support of other regional parties in state assemblies.

The president in India is chosen by an electoral college that consists of lawmakers in both houses of Parliament and elected members of the legislative assemblies of all states. The president’s role is largely ceremonial, but the position can be important during times of political uncertainty such as a hung parliament, when the office assumes greater power.

The votes from Monday’s election will be counted Thursday.

Modi’s party has projected Murmu as a leader representing poor tribal communities, which generally lack health care and education facilities in remote villages. Murmu, 64, hails from the eastern of state Odisha and previously was governor of Jharkhand state.

If elected, she will become the first president from one of the country’s tribes and the second-ever female president of India. She is a member of the Santal ethnic minority.

Murmu’s main opponent is a former BJP rebel, a candidate put up by a divided opposition. Yashwant Sinha, 84, was finance minister during the previous BJP government from 1998 to 2002. He quit the party following a divergence with Modi on economic issues in 2018.

The winner will replace Ram Nath Kovind, a leader from the Dalit community, which is at the lowest end of the complex hierarchy of caste in Hinduism.

Kovind, 76, is also a longtime associate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Volunteer Corps, a Hindu nationalist group that has long been accused of stoking religious hatred against Muslims. He has been president since 2017.

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, waves after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, waves after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, waves after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

A lawmaker casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker leaves after casting her vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

A lawmaker leaves after casting her vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker leaves after casting her vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

A lawmaker casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, leaves, after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, leaves, after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, leaves, after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah casts his vote during India's presidential election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah casts his vote during India's presidential election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah casts his vote during India's presidential election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker casts her vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

A lawmaker casts her vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
A lawmaker casts her vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Security men stand against the portraits of past Indian presidents placed outside polling room at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Security men stand against the portraits of past Indian presidents placed outside polling room at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Security men stand against the portraits of past Indian presidents placed outside polling room at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, greets lawmakers standing in a queue to vote during India's presidential election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, greets lawmakers standing in a queue to vote during India's presidential election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, greets lawmakers standing in a queue to vote during India's presidential election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Lawmakers stand in a queue to cast their votes during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
An Indian lawmaker waves as he comes out after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

An Indian lawmaker waves as he comes out after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
An Indian lawmaker waves as he comes out after casting his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
An official walks past portraits of past Indian presidents placed outside a polling room at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

An official walks past portraits of past Indian presidents placed outside a polling room at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
An official walks past portraits of past Indian presidents placed outside a polling room at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah casts his vote during India's president election at the Parliament House in New Delhi, Monday, July 18, 2022. Lawmakers are voting for India's next president in an election expected to be won by a tribal woman from India's ruling party. The election of Draupadi Murmu is a formality as the Bharatiya Janata Party controls enough seats in federal and state legislatures to push its favored candidate. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup