Former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar face off in the elections to pick India’s 14th President on Monday. NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind appears to have a clear edge over opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
The voting began at 10 am in the Parliament building as well as state assemblies. The electoral college of the presidential election comprises 4,120 MLAs and 776 MPs with a total vote value of 10,98,903 -- 549,408 for 543 Lok Sabha and 233 Rajya Sabha parliamentarians, and 549,495 for 4,120 legislators in state assemblies.
Elaborate arrangements have been made at the Parliament House here and state Assemblies across the country to enable Parliamentarians and Members of the Legislative Assemblies to cast their votes. Aimed to ensure a 100 percent turnout, the Election Commission (EC) on Sunday allowed 14 Rajya Sabha MPs and 41 Lok Sabha MPs to vote in state assemblies for the polls. It also gave permission to five MLAs to vote in the Parliament in New Delhi.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Sunday described the electoral contest as a fight against a “narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision”. Addressing Opposition leaders Meira Kumar and vice presidential nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi, she said, in these contests, the numbers may be against them but “the battle must be fought and fought hard”.
“This election represents a clash of ideas, a conflict of disparate values. The election demands a vote of conscience to preserve the India that the Mahatma and that illustrious generation of freedom fighters, joined by thousands upon thousands of ordinary men and women, fought for,” she said.
Meira, who has been campaigning across state capitals, has described the Presidential contest as a “battle of ideologies”.
NDA’s Kovind has a clear edge in the election with support of 63 percent voters in the electoral college, which has a vote value of 10.98 lakh. The candidature of Meira, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, has been supported by 16 Opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), SP, BSP, DMK and JD(S).
In the all-party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged MPs and MLAs to ensure that “not a single vote goes waste”.
“It would have been better had the Presidential election taken place through consensus. But it is satisfying to note that the campaign for the election has been carried out with dignity and grace. I congratulate all political parties for this,” Modi said at the meeting.