Who will be India’s next president, Ram Nath Kovind or Meira Kumar?
New Delhi: Voting is currently underway to pick India’s next president, with NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and opposition candidate Meira Kumar competing for the top spot. The vote, which will go on until 5 pm today, coincides with the start of the monsoon session of parliament.
Thirty-two polling stations – one in Parliament House and one each in the state legislative assemblies – have been set up. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to cast his vote.
The president is elected by the electoral college, which comprises all MPs and MLAs and has a total strength of 10,98,903 votes. A candidate needs 50% of the vote, or 5,49,452 votes, to win. Kovind, formerly the governor of Bihar, appears to have the numbers on his side – almost 40 parties, including non-NDA parties, have pledged their support for him. Significantly, although the opposition had planned to field a joint candidate, the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) broke ranks to back Kovind’s candidature. However, in presidential polls, parties cannot issue a whip and cross-voting is often seen.
Former Lok Sabha speaker Meira is backed by the Congress and 17 opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, NCP, AAP and the Trinamool Congress.
The opposition has repeatedly termed the election an “ideological battle“. At the time of her nomination, Meira had said, “This election is a fight of ideology. I would appeal to the collegium to take their decision on the best interest of the country, based on the cherished values and principles and ideologies. These are social justice, inclusiveness and values of composite Indian heritage which we hold so sacred”.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 24. His successor will be announced on Thursday, July 20.
India will also choose a new vice president, voting for which is scheduled for August 5. The opposition has already announced former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as its nominee for vice president. The NDA is expected to announce its candidate soon.