India's parliament began voting on Monday for the election of the country's new president, where a female politician from a marginalized tribal community is given the favourite.
Droupadi Murmu, from the Santhal tribe, was nominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for the largely ceremonial post.
If elected, she would become the first president from a tribe and the second president of India.
As for the outgoing president, Ram Nath Kovind, he is the second president of the country from the Dalit community, the lowest in the caste system, also called “the untouchables”.
Ms. Murmu, 64 years old , started her career as a schoolteacher in the eastern state of Odisha before entering politics. She has held ministerial positions in the state government and served as the governor of the state of Jharkhand (east).
She “has dedicated her life to serving society and empowering the poor, oppressed and marginalized,” Mr Modi wrote on Twitter after his candidacy was announced.
His main opponent, Yashwant Sinha, 84, a former BJP member and ex-finance and foreign minister, is backed by opposition parties, including Congress.
He is now a fierce critic of Mr Modi's government.
“This year, the presidential election is not a contest between two individuals but between two ideologies,” he said on Twitter. “Only one side wants to protect the provisions and values enshrined in our Constitution.”
The President of India is chosen for a five-year term by nearly 5,000 elected members of both Houses of Parliament and regional legislatures across the country.
Each vote is weighted by constituency size, and candidates are ranked in order of preference.
If none of the candidates obtains more than 50% support, the candidate with the lowest score is eliminated and their votes are redistributed until a candidate emerges with an absolute majority.
< p>The result of the election will be announced later in the week.
India's prime minister holds executive power, but the president can return some bills from parliament for reconsideration.
The president also plays a role in the process of forming governments.