New Delhi (July 17, 2017): Who will be India’s next President? Either Ram Nath Kovind or Meira Kumar? The Presidential Election Polling has ended in India and the 776 MPs and 4120 MLAs votes in a secret ballot today will decide the President.
Some 4,900 legislators nationwide voted in what Modi termed a “historic” election to choose the titular head of state.
Ram Nath Kovind, the candidate of Modi´s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a former lawyer and state governor from the Dalit community, is certain to win.
His main rival is Meira Kumar, the nominee of the Congress-led opposition and also a Dalit.
But the BJP, which won a landslide in a general election in 2014, has for the first time assembled enough electoral college votes across the country to push through its presidential candidate. Congress has traditionally dominated the post.
Polling Began at 10 am Indian local time. As things stand, Kovind is likely to sweep the election with 70 per cent of the electoral college backing him. However, political parties cannot issue a whip to their members to vote for a particular nominee which means that cross-voting is possible.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah cast their votes at Parliament. Before casting his vote, Modi addressed the media, saying that the Monsoon Session, which begun today, brings ‘hope’.
Analysts said the elction of Kovind, 71, would help Modi tighten his grip on power and accrue political capital by sending an important message to the Dalits, a long-disdained electoral group once known as “untouchables”.
Dalits, who number around 200 million in the nation of 1.3 billion, are among India´s poorest communities and relegated to the margins of society.
Despite legal protection, discrimination is rife and Dalits are routinely denied access to education and other advancement opportunities.
Meanwhile, BJP is scheduled to hold a parliamentary board meeting at 6 pm to decide its Vice-Presidential candidate later today. The opposition has already picked former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as its candidate.
The results of Presidential elections will be released on Thursday.