Advantage Pranab as lawmakers vote to elect new president (Afternoon Lead)July 19th, 2012 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Indian lawmakers Thursday voted to elect a new president in what is a direct contest between ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee, holding a clear winning edge, and opposition-backed P.A. Sangma.
Polling to choose the 13th president started simultaneously at the national and state capitals.
More than 650 votes had been cast till 1 p.m., Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat said.
MPs were seen queuing up in Parliament House outside the polling booth in Room No 63 even before the voting began at 10 a.m.
Nearly 700 MPs and eight state legislators were expected to participate in the exercise in Parliament House.
Polling began on a brisk note with Bapi Raju Kanumuri, the Congress MP from Narsapuram in Andhra Pradesh, being the first MP to vote.
“My blessings are with Pranabda. I was the first to vote,” Kanumuri told IANS as he came out of the polling station.
DMK’s M.K. Alagiri, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member Bhartruhari Mahtab and Congress’ Pratap Singh Bajwa were among the early voters. L.K. Advani, Arun Jaitley and Murli Manohar Joshi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also voted.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Mayawati and Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachhan were among the early women voters.
As voting picked up, many MPs, including women, were seen standing in the queue to vote.
Mukherjee, who has a clear edge over opposition-favoured Sangma, came to vote shortly after 11 a.m. Congress MPs were seen greeting him.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi accompanied Mukherjee as the leaders cast their ballot one after the other amid camera flashlights.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi also voted shortly after.
The leaders didn’t speak to the media but waved towards a battery of reporters covering the event.
Mukherjee also enjoys enjoys the support of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
BJP-led NDA members Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Shiv Sena have also extended their support to the former finance minister besides the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Forward Bloc.
The Communist Party of India, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) have said their MPs and legislators will abstain from voting.
Sangma, a member of the Meghalaya assembly, said he was still “hopeful” despite the numbers being stacked against him.
“Look at my face, I am hopeful,” Sangma told reporters.
Voting was also under way in all states for assembly members who along with Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha MPs together make up India’s electoral college.
The college has 4,120 assembly members and 776 members of parliament.
Polling will continue till 5 p.m. The votes will be counted Sunday, three days before President Pratibha Patil’s five-year tenure ends.
- Indian lawmakers vote to elect new president (Lead) - Jul 19, 2012
- Pranab favourite as lawmakers vote for new president (Evening Lead) - Jul 19, 2012
- Vote count on for presidential poll (Second Lead) - Jul 22, 2012
- Parties begin as Pranab set for victory (Third Lead) - Jul 22, 2012
- India to elect new president Thursday (Lead) - Jul 18, 2012
- Pranab will win, claims UPA - Jul 17, 2012
- Presidential poll outcome Sunday - Jul 21, 2012
- India to elect new president Thursday - Jul 18, 2012
- Presidential election: Break-up of votes polled - Jul 22, 2012
- GJM to go with Trinamool on presidential poll - Jun 28, 2012
- Sonia's lunch presents picture of UPA unity (Lead) - Jul 18, 2012
- Polling to elect next Indian president ends - Jul 19, 2012
- Presidential polls: Fear of poaching haunts Chhattisgarh parties - Jul 10, 2012
- Ansari has edge over Jaswant Singh in vice presidential poll - Aug 06, 2012
- Lokpal: Congress confident of smooth sail in Rajya Sabha - Dec 28, 2011
Tags: 13th president, arun jaitley, bajwa, bharatiya janata party, congress mps, congress president sonia gandhi, jaya bachhan, l k advani, mahtab, manmohan singh, Mayawati, murli manohar joshi, pranab mukherjee, pratap singh, prime minister manmohan, prime minister manmohan singh, rahul gandhi, Samajwadi Party, state capitals, state legislators