'Always first'; 85-year-old teacher awaits to see Draupadi take oath as India's first citizen

Draupadi Murmu
Draupadi Murmu’s former school teacher Vasanth Kumar Giri, Presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu. Photo: Manorama

Vasanth Kumar Giri, a former school teacher at the lower primary school in Uparbeda village in Odisha's Rairangpur, still remembers the smile on the face of a 4-year-old girl clinging to her father’s hand on her first visit to school.

The 85-year-old is excited about the Presidential nomination of the student he taught from first to fifth grade.

Giri reminisces of the times he taught little Draupadi - the BJP’s Presidential nominee and former Jharkhand Governor - at school.

“Her name was Draupadi Tudu then. She was the eldest of the then village head Narayanan Tudu. She took her husband’s surname and became Draupadi Murmu after her marriage to Shyam Charan Murmu, a bank officer. Narayanan left his little girl at school and told me to teach his daughter well. She was smart and came first in all exams. She had the oratory skills of her father. She participated in all the oratorical contests held for students annually and won the first prize without fail.”

We, teachers, were sure that she would reach great heights and make us proud. I have watched her grow and become the Municipal Vice-chairperson, the MLA, a Minister and a Governor for the state of Jharkhand,” Giri said in a trembling voice. His eyes gleamed in pride while speaking about his former student who is the NDA candidature for Presidential election.

“Her name was also considered for the Presidential elections in 2017 but was left out at the final moment. Hence this time, we were all eagerly waiting and heaved a sigh when the final announcement on the candidature came up on television. However busy she is, she makes it a point to visit the school once a year. After becoming the Jharkhand Governor, Draupadi called on us with silk shawls for all teachers, including me. Her visit had created a festive ambience in the village and the school then. A bigger festival and celebration is coming up soon,” said Vasanth.

He is awaiting the moment when his grade 1 student who stepped into the school with her father, in 1962, becomes the first citizen of India 60 years later.

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