Voting for 14th President of India begins

17 Jul 2017, 11:37


New Delhi: Voting to elect the country’s 14th President began on Monday morning.

All elected MPs and member of Legislative Assemblies are eligible to cast their vote to elect the successor of Pranab Mukherjee, who demits office on July 25.

The contest is between National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee Ram Nath Kovind and candidate of several major opposition parties Meira Kumar, who was former Lok Sabha Speaker.

The polling will take place in Parliament House and respective state assemblies between 10:00am and 5:00pm.

Elected members of both houses of Parliament and assemblies in states, including the National Capital Region of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry, are eligible to vote.

Counting of votes in the election will be taken up on 20 July and the result will be known the same evening—four days before the end of the term of President Pranab Mukherjee. The new President is set to take over on 25 July.

Officials said that polling in Parliament House will take place in Room Number 62 and MPs will vote according to tables allocated to states they represent.

In the electoral arithmetic, Kovind, a former Bihar Governor, has a distinct advantage over his rival, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, with parties like Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), who are not allied with BJP, deciding to vote for him.

The Janata Dal-United has about 1.91 per cent of electoral college votes, while the BJD of Odisha has 2.99 per cent. In addition, the ruling TRS in Telangana (two per cent), different factions of AIADMK (5.39 per cent), YSR Congress (1.53 per cent) have also announced their backing for Kovind.

The announcement of Kovind’s candidature created some fissures in the opposition with the JD-U announcing its support for him against the stand of its Bihar allies—Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress.

Though the Aam Aadmi Party has declared its support to Kumar, its leader H.S. Phoolka, who has handled several 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases, has said he would abstain as he cannot vote with the Congress.

The electoral college for the election comprises elected members of the two houses of Parliament as also of legislative assemblies. Election will be by secret ballot and in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.

There are no whips issued in the presidential election. Kumar has appealed to members of the electoral college to ‘heed the inner voice of conscience’ while casting their vote.

Lok Sabha Secretary General Anoop Mishra is the Returning Officer for the election.

The value of vote of an MP is 708 while that of an MLA varies from state to state depending on the size of its population.

Officials said that each polling station has been given a specified number of ballot papers. While MPs will be given green ballot paper, MLAs will be given one that is pink.

The electors have to mark the ballot only with a particular pen given to them at the polling station along with the ballot paper.

In the last presidential election in 2012, Pranab Mukherjee had defeated P.A. Sangma and got over 69 per cent votes.

Officials said that ballot papers have reached the polling stations and requests made by the members of the electoral college about their choice of exercising ballot had been taken into consideration.