Voting for India’s next President, a spirited contest between the National Democratic Alliance’s candidate Droupadi Murmu and Opposition’s Yashwant Sinha, got over on Monday with the results scheduled to be announced on July 21.
Voting took place at Parliament House as well as State Assemblies across the country with as many as 736 electors casting their vote, which included 727 MPs and 9 MLAs permitted by the Election Commission of India to vote there, according to an official release issued on Monday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues, and former PM Manmohan Singh and other top politicians lined up to cast their votes either at Parliament House or in their respective states.
Rajya Sabha Secretary General PC Mody told the reporters that elector turnout was 99.18 per cent. "Out of the 736 electors 730 comprising 721 MPs and 9 Legislative Assembly members cast their votes," Modi said.
Overall there are 4,796 electors in the electoral call list of President's election. It is learnt that but for 42 lawmakers -- 8 MPs and 34 MLAs -- rest participated in the electoral exercise. As per an ECI update, hundred percent voting took place in 11 States and Union Territory of Puducherry.
Reports suggest several MLAs cross-voted against their individual party's stand and instead opted for NDA candidate Droupdi Murmu. Congress MLAs in Haryana and Odisha, while NCP legislators of Gujarat and Jharkhand said they didn't vote for Yashwant Sinha. Haryana Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi said he voted according to his conscience - a repeat of cross-voting he did in last month's Rajya Sabha polls. Similarly, Odisha Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim made public his vote for Murmu whom she addressed as a "daughter of Odisha".
Akali Dal MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali announced through a facebook post that he was boycotting the presidential elections owing to "sentiments of Sikh community". Presidential election voting is done through a secret ballot and parties are barred from issuing whips to their MPs and MLAs.
“The Assistant Returning Officers of various States will start arriving with the polled sealed ballot boxes to Parliament House, New Delhi by road and by air from today evening itself. The first Ballot Box is expected to arrive in Parliament House around 10.00 pm today. All necessary security arrangements for the safe transit of the ballot boxes from the Airport to Parliament House have been made,” the release stated.
Counting on July 21
The counting of votes will begin on July 21 at 11 am and the results declared the same day. The President of India is indirectly elected through an electoral college which comprises MPs of both houses and MLAs of all States and union territories. Nominated members are not allowed to vote for the Presidential elections.
Murmu, who belongs to the Santhal tribe, if elected, will become India’s first tribal President. Apart from the NDA, a large number of political parties, including Shiv Sena, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Biju Janata Dal and YSR Congress Party, are backing her candidature.
The term of office of existing President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 24.