Ram Nath Kovind will be the 14th President of the country following in the footsteps of incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee. Kovind (71), who was nominated by the BJP-led NDA, won the Presidential contest after beating Meira Kumar, the Opposition candidate, garnering two-thirds of the total votes cast.
While Kovind received 2930 votes with a value of 7,02,044, Kumar got 1844 votes with a value of 3,67,314, said Returning Officer Anoop Mishra. The winning margin was not as big as expected by the BJP, which had projected a 70 per cent vote for Kovind. Mukherjee had received votes valued at 7,13,763 in 2012.
Kovind, a BJP leader who has served as a Rajya Sabha MP and later was appointed the Governor of Bihar, will be the second Dalit President of the country after KR Narayanan. He is also the first BJP leader to be elected to the highest office of the land. Celebrations broke out in his ancestral village of Paraunkh village in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh.
“This is an emotional moment for me today,” said Kovind in his first remarks to the press at his official residence. “This responsibility being given to me is a message to every person in the country who fulfils his responsibilities with honesty.”
Kumar, in her remarks to reporters, also congratulated Kovind for the victory. At the same time, she said her fight for secularism, the marginalised and the oppressed will continue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was gladdened by the extensive support Kovind was able to manage across the political spectrum. “Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind Ji on being elected the President of India! Best wishes for a fruitful & inspiring tenure,” the prime minister tweeted immediately.
Kovind’s victory was a foregone conclusion due to the NDA’s numerical strength in Parliament and the backing of non-NDA parties like the BJD, JD(U), TRS and AIADMK. However, Kumar, the former Lok Sabha Speaker, exhorted members of Parliament and state assemblies to vote with their conscience.
Kovind’s victory has come amid reports of cross-voting in several states such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Jharkhand. While the NDA candidate got the votes of 522 MPs of Parliament, Kumar was able to get only 225 MPs to vote for her. In NDA-ruled states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat and Jharkhand, Kovind was able to beat Kumar convincingly. In states like West Bengal (TMC-ruled), Karnataka (Cong-ruled) and Punjab (Cong-ruled), Kumar was able to get more votes than Kovind.
Also read: All you need to know about Ram Nath Kovind
A total of 4,896 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs– were eligible to cast their ballot. MLCs of states with legislative council are not part of the electoral college. While the value of an MLA’s vote depends on the population of his or her state, the value of an MP’s vote remains the same at 708.
Next, in the vice-presidential election on August 5, NDA candidate Venkaiah Naidu will take on Gopalkrishna Gandhi of the Opposition. The votes, cast by members of both Houses of Parliament, will be counted the same day.