Former Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu is the National Democratic Alliance’s candidate for the presidential elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party announced on Tuesday.

“For the first time, preference has been given to a woman tribal candidate,” BJP National President JP Nadda said.

He said that the Parliamentary Board, the BJP’s highest decision making body, discussed the names of 20 nominees for the elections, PTI reported. Nadda added that arriving at a consensus to choose a candidate for the post of president was always desirable, but it did not materialise.

“It was decided to pick someone from east India, a tribal and a woman,” he added.

The 64-year-old is from Odisha. She served as the governor of Jharkhand from 2015 to 2021.

Murmu said she was suprised as well as delighted by the announcement, PTI reported. She added that she will request the Biju Janata Dal for support as a “daughter of the soil”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Murmu has devoted her life to serving the society and expressed confidence that she will be a great president if elected.

“She has rich administrative experience and had an outstanding gubernatorial tenure,” he wrote on Twitter. “Her understanding of policy matters and compassionate nature will greatly benefit our country.”

The development came hours after the Opposition parties named former Union minister Yashwant Sinha as a candidate to contest the presidential polls.

He was nominated after Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi refused to contest.

The Opposition urged all the parties to elect Sinha unopposed so that the country could have a “worthy rashtrapati”.

“In his long and distinguished career in public life, Shri Yashwant Sinha has served the nation in various capacities – as an able administrator, accomplished parliamentarian and acclaimed Union minister of finance and external affairs,” a joint statement of the Opposition parties read. “He is eminently qualified to uphold secular and democratic character of the Indian Republic and its Constitutional values.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Sinha had resigned as a Trinamool Congress member. He had joined the party in March last year.

The elections will be held on July 18 and the votes will be counted on July 21. The last date for filing nominations is June 29.

The president is elected by the members of the electoral college consisting of MPs from both Houses of Parliament and MLAs of all states, including the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.