Presidential elections 2017: 70 per cent votes with him, it’s Ram Nath Kovind vs Meira Kumar today

Presidential elections 2017: Out of 95 candidates of which 93 were rejected on various grounds, leaving Kovind and Opposition candidate Kumar in the fray. While Kumar has support of 17 opposition parties, Kovind is set to get nearly 70 per cent of the electoral college votes.

Written by Anand Mishra | New Delhi | Updated: July 17, 2017 8:46 am
presidential elections, ram nath kovind, meira kumar, kovind meira, dalit president, who is new president, A former Bihar governor, Ram Nath Kovind hails from Uttar Pradesh while Meira Kumar, who earlier served as Lok Sabha Speaker, is the daughter of former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram.(File photo)

On the eve of elections to select the 14th president of the country, which NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind looks set to sweep, Congress president Sonia Gandhi sought “a vote of conscience”, calling the contest “a clash of ideas and a conflict of disparate values”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was addressing an all-party meeting ahead of the Parliament session, said it would have been better if the President had been chosen by consensus. “However, it is a matter of satisfaction and pride that the election campaign has been a dignified one. All the political parties need to be congratulated. All parties must train their MPs and MLAs to cast their votes so that not a single vote is wasted,” he added.

A total of 95 candidates filed nominations for the top Constitutional post, of which 93 were rejected on various grounds, leaving only Kovind and Opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the fray. While Kumar has support of 17 opposition parties, Kovind is set to get nearly 70 per cent of the electoral college votes.

Sonia acknowledged this in her speech on Sunday, at a meeting of non-NDA parties with Meira Kumar and the Opposition’s vice-presidential candidate, Gopalkrishna Gandhi. The numbers may be against the Opposition, she said, but “the battle must be fought and fought hard”. “We cannot and must not let India be hostage to those who wish to impose upon it a narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision,” Sonia said.

The Opposition’s campaign had been dealt the most decisive blow by the JD(U), a Congress ally in Bihar, which decided to back Kovind after being the first to moot the idea of putting up a joint candidate against the NDA’s. Taking the JD(U)’s cue, other parties had later lined up behind Kovind.

On Sunday, the JD(U) again absented itself from the Opposition meeting, though it has backed Gandhi for vice-president. It also stayed away from the all-party meeting chaired by Modi.

Also Read | Maximum votes for Meira Kumar could come from Bengal

Explaining why they couldn’t attend the Opposition meeting, a JD(U) functionary said, “Why does the Congress create such an embarrassing situation for us? Why did they organise the meeting of MPs with both Meira Kumar and Gandhi? When we have not supported Meira Kumar’s candidature, how could we go there?”

Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav later went to meet Gandhi at his residence in Delhi and assured him of the party’s support. As of now, 18 parties have supported his candidature.

A source in the BJP familiar with Kovind’s election campaign said that the NDA nominee, who had started with 28 parties backing him, now has the support of 42. As part of his campaign, Kovind visited 27 states, including in the Northeast. The BJP leader said he got a good response everywhere. Meira Kumar also campaigned across states, starting from Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati.

In her speech, Sonia said, “What is at stake is our future, and the values we cherish and must uphold, especially at this time of grave disquiet. 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.”

Noting that the president and vice-president are constitutional heads of state and are entrusted to discharge the duties of their offices in a manner that preserves, protects and defends both the Constitution and the law, she said, “Both of these are, sadly, under siege today.”

A former Bihar governor, Kovind hails from Uttar Pradesh while Meira Kumar, who earlier served as Lok Sabha Speaker, is the daughter of former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram. Though both the BJP and Congress highlighted the caste of their candidates, Meira Kumar had disapproved of projecting it as a “Dalit versus Dalit” fight.

Kovind has underlined the importance of maintaining the supremacy of the Constitution and said he had had nothing to do with any party since he became governor, and that he believed that the post of president should be above party politics.

The counting of votes will take place on July 20 in New Delhi after all the ballot boxes have been brought from various state capitals. Incumbent Pranab Mukherjee’s term comes to an end on July 24.

A total of 4,896 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs — are eligible to cast their ballot. Since the election is through a secret ballot, the parties cannot issue a whip to their members to vote for a particular candidate. A total of 32 polling stations — one in Parliament House and one each in the state legislative Assemblies — have been set up.

Thirty-three observers have been appointed by the EC to oversee the election. While two observers will be present in Parliament House, one each will be deployed at the Assemblies.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Goa CM Manohar Parrikar are among 55 MPs who will vote in their Assemblies instead of Parliament House. Five MLAs will cast their ballot in Parliament House.

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  1. K
    komal dhanuka
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:49 am
    see that the shortcut keys used to cut copy paste contain ctrl and alt why use for copy c paste x and use the voice box instead of traffic lights to manage the traffic better option because traffic is major problem in India
    1. K
      komal dhanuka
      Jul 19, 2017 at 11:46 am
      a friend of mine posted that the innovation can be applied such that every street of India have drinking water and toilets .
      1. S
        Jul 18, 2017 at 12:57 am
        ram nath govind is not the candidate people wanted. it is imposition by BJP. Modi can pull someone and give him seat but that is not everyone's dream or wish even his diplomatic skill is zero. Modi will control him like puppet '
        1. S
          Sven Smalgand
          Jul 18, 2017 at 7:11 am
          Did you talk to each and every "pipples" before you pulled your comment out of your sorry musharraf? Now go back to the corner and put your thumb deep in your musharraf and write 100 times, I will not speak out of turn.
        2. V
          Jul 17, 2017 at 11:59 am
          Soniaji it seems has a limited memory - she does not seem to know what happened in Indian Polity prior to Rajivji became PM. "Conscience" vote call was given by Indiraji to defeat official Presidential candidate of Congress" against whom Indiraji had indirectly made Mr. VV Giri as the candidate. But by asking for conscience vote does Soniaji mean that Congress MLA/MPs can vote for either Kovind or Meira Kumar according to their conscience. Let her clarity else Mr. Waghela and many other Congress MLA/MPs may vote for Mr. Kovind.
          1. M
            Jul 17, 2017 at 11:10 am
            The crooks cherish and uphold crooked values -- like 2G CWG Coalgate -- the days of such mafia are over !
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