99 per cent of parliamentarians vote to elect next President

NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind or UPA’s Meira Kumar. Who will it be? As lawmakers queue up to pick the future president of the country, rival camps keep fingers crossed.  

Published: 18th July 2017 07:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th July 2017 07:49 AM   |  A+A-

Union ministers Maneka Gandhi and V K Singh (left, foreground) as well as other Members of Parliament stand in a queue to cast their vote during the presidential election, at Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday | Shekhar Yadav

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  The heavy downpour which lashed the majestic Lutyens’ architecture of Parliament failed to dampen enthusiasm as parliamentarians queued up to cast their vote to elect the next President, with a record 99 per cent polling witnessed on Monday.Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the enthusiastic parliamentarians in the morning outside Room Number 62, which was one of the 32 polling booths across the country, to cast their votes to elect the 14th President of India. Modi noted that there had been no negative campaigning for the presidential election.

With the presidential election turning out to be a straight contest between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee Ram Nath Kovind and the joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar, poll managers of the respective candidates have their fingers crossed on the victory margin of the winning candidate when the votes are counted on July 20. 

The BJP claimed to have the support of 70 per cent of the electoral college even while the party leaders stated that the margin would only increase as a few instances of cross-voting were reported. Samajwadi Party legislator Shivpal Singh Yadav told media representatives that he voted for Kovind on the direction of his brother Mulayam Singh Yadav.

“The victory of Kovind ji is certain. We are confident that he will win the presidential poll with a huge margin,” said Union minister Uma Bharti.BJP patriarch L K Advani along with Murli Manohar Joshi turned up early in the morning to cast their votes. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farookh Abdullah, who was recently elected to the Lok Sabha in the Srinagar by-election, also cast his vote early in the day. 

While the BJP stuck to the positive campaigning for Kovind, Meira Kumar sought votes on the basis of ideology even while the West Bengal chief minister turned the electoral battle into a mandate against the Modi government. 

“Legislators in the state have voted against lynching, interference in state government’s affairs and the communal agenda of the ruling party at the centre,” Mamata Banerjee told media representatives.
Eleven states, including Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, Jharkhand, Assam Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry, reported 100 per cent polling.“Kovind ji will win (the election) with a respectable and comfortable margin,” Union minister and BJP’s vice presidential nominee Venkaiah Naidu said.

SP’s Shivpal votes for Ram Nath Kovind
The internal feud in the first family of Samajwadi Party resurfaced yet again with a group of party MLAs, led by the party’s former Uttar Pradesh chief Shivpal Yadav, openly admitting to the media of cross-voting in favour of UPA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential elections, against the official party line. “I and a big chunk of MLAs with me and many other opposition members have voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind as per the wish of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav,” said Shivpal after casting his vote. Political observers believe that the cross-voting in the UP House in favour of Kovind is an attempt by the ruling party to divide the opposition’s unity.

Bhujbal arrives in ambulance to vote
Jailed NCP MLA Chhagan Bhujbal made a unique entry to the Vidhan Sabha in Mumbai in an ambulance to cast his vote in the presidential election along with NCP MLA Ramesh Kadam, who is also jailed. The two had sought permission from various courts before they were allowed to vote.

Liezietsu left red-faced
Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu turned a shade red on Monday after he was ‘pulled’ by a security member while strolling by the polling hall in the state capital. The chief minister, who is not an Assembly member and thus can’t vote, in his defence said he was there to oversee security arrangements and logistics.

AAP’s Phoolka doesn’t vote over anti-Sikh riots case
: In Punjab, AAP member H S Phoolka went solo in not exercising his vote from the 117-member House for Meira Kumar. Reason? He is fighting the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases. Meanwhile, the flutter of activity seemed to have caught up to Punjab minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, whose ‘slip of pen’ left marks on his ballot paper. EC officials refused to give him a clean sheet.

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