The presidential poll on Monday saw nearly 99 per cent voting, the highest ever, according to returning officer said. Polling was held simultaneously at 32 polling stations — one in Parliament House and one each in 29 state assemblies and two union territories with assemblies.
Of the total 771 MPs who are entitled to vote, 768, or 99.61 per cent, cast their votes. Likewise, of the 4,109 MLAs entitled to vote, 4,083 or 99.37 per cent cast their votes, officials said.
A total of 4,895 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs — were eligible to vote. Madhya Pradesh Minister Narottam Mishra did not cast his vote as he was disqualified by the poll body over the allegations of “paid news”. While the value of a legislator’s vote depends on the population of the state he or she belongs to, the value of a Member of Parliament’s vote remains the same at 708.
Ram Nath Kovind, 71, is a farmer’s son and his humble origins and simple lifestyle were stressed by BJP leaders. The former Bihar Governor has served two terms as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He is a trained lawyer who has appeared at the High Court and Supreme Court. PM Modi’s choice of Mr Kovind, a Dalit candidate, was seen as a masterstroke to divide the opposition and keep allies together as well as a move to consolidate its growing support among politically vital backward castes.
Ram Nath Kovind will be the second Dalit President of India after KR Narayanan.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) broke ranks with the opposition to support for Ram Nath Kovind and the BJP’s partner Shiv Sena, which has in the last two Presidential elections voted against its own alliance, too has supported Mr Kovind. Mr Kumar’s support to Mr Kovind came as a big blow to the opposition, which had picked the Presidential elections as an occasion to forge an anti-BJP bloc ahead of the 2019 general elections.