Parliamentarians and legislators across the country voted Monday to elect the next President and by the time voting concluded, there were enough indications that NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu was set for an emphatic win against Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha.
Votes will be counted on July 21 and the next President will take oath on July 25.
The Election Commission said: “As per reports being received, out of a total of 771 Members of Parliament entitled to vote (05 vacant) and similarly out of total 4025 Members of the Legislative Assemblies entitled to vote (06 vacant and 02 disqualified), over 99% cast their votes today. However, 100% voting by MLAs was reported from Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Puducherry, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu.”
Two MLAs, Anant Kumar Singh and Mahendra Hari Dalvi,were not eligible to vote in the election, owing to disqualification under Section 8 of R P Act, 1951 subsequent to judgment of the competent Court, the EC said.
Sources said eight MPs did not vote — Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dhotre (BJP); Syed Imtiaz Jaleel (AIMIM); Gajanan Kirtikar (Shiv Sena); Mohammad Sadique (Congress); T R Paarivendhar (DMK); Haji Fazlur Rehman and Atul Kumar Singh (BSP).
After the polling for #PresidentialElections2022 concluded peacefully today, Mr. Ballot Box boarded the flight to Delhi accompanied by respective AROs! Pics from Assam, Gujarat and Karnataka along with the sealed Ballot Box. Counting of votes is scheduled on July 21,2022. pic.twitter.com/iqHIg8rCPJ
— Election Commission of India #SVEEP (@ECISVEEP) July 18, 2022
Instances of cross-voting, mostly in favour of Murmu, were reported from many states including her home state Odisha, Jharkhand where she was Governor, Gujarat and Haryana. Exactly how many MPs and MLAs cross-voted will be known when the votes are counted.
In Room No. 63 of Parliament House, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his predecessor Manmohan Singh who came in a wheelchair, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, senior ministers, leaders of parties and MPs voted. Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav too came in a wheelchair while Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Power Minister R K Singh came wearing PPE kits.
The BJP and its allies have close to 48% of the votes. Having secured the support of regional parties like the BJD, YSRCP, BSP, AIADMK, TDP, JD(S), JMM, Shiv Sena besides the the SAD, Murmu’s vote share is expected to cross 60 per cent, ensuring she becomes the first woman from a tribal community to occupy the top constitutional post.
Although the result appeared to be a foregone conclusion, there was an element of excitement with speculation on cross-voting in some places.
Haryana Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, who had cross-voted in last month’s Rajya Sabha polls, indicated that he had supported the NDA candidate. “Like Rajya Sabha, I have cast my vote in this election too as per my conscience,” he told reporters. Asked about his future course of action, he said, “I will reveal this soon.”
SAD MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali chose to boycott the poll and blamed the BJP-led Centre, previous Congress-led governments for not settling issues related to Punjab, and also his own party. In a video message, he said the party leadership did not consult him or the Sikh community before deciding to extend support to Murmu.
In Gujarat, NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja said he voted for Murmu. In 2020, the NCP had issued a show-cause notice to Jadeja for defying the whip and cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha polls. Jadeja had defied the party whip and voted for BJP candidates instead of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls from Gujarat in 2017 and 2020. His party colleague in Jharkhand, Kamlesh Singh, too backed Murmu.
In Odisha, Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim announced he had voted in favour of Murmu as she was the “daughter of Odisha”. “I am an Odia. I voted in favour of Droupadi Murmu as she is a daughter of Odisha. I went by my conscience. MLAs cannot be prevented from listening to their conscience,” Moquim said.
In Assam, the Congress and its erstwhile ally AIUDF engaged in a war of words. AIUDF MLA Karimuddin Barbhuiya said he had evidence that 20 legislators of the Opposition Congress had cross-voted but did not furnish any. The Congress denied the charge and pointed out that two of the AIUDF MLAs did not come to vote. It also claimed that only two AIUDF MLAs had come to a meeting when Sinha was in Guwahati as part of his campaign trail.
In Odisha, BJP leader Pradipta Kumar Naik came in a wheelchair from hospital where he was admitted with post-Covid complications. An oxygen cylinder accompanied him. In Patna, BJP MLA Mithilesh Kumar, who was injured in a road accident about a month ago, arrived on a stretcher to cast his vote.
And in Chennai, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, the first to vote in the secretariat complex, reached the polling booth straight from a hospital after being discharged following his recovery from Covid.
The electoral college which elects the president through the system of proportional representation comprises elected MPs and MLAs. The value of the vote of a MP has gone down to 700 from 708 this Presidential poll due to the absence of an Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir. Nominated MPs and MLAs, and MLCs are not entitled to vote in this election.
The value of vote of each MLA varies in states. In Uttar Pradesh, the value of vote of a MLA is 208, followed by 176 in Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. In Maharashtra, it is 175. In Sikkim, for example, the value of vote per MLA is seven, while it is nine in Nagaland and eight in Mizoram.
In a first, the Commission also allowed Covid-19 positive electors to cast their votes in the last hour of polling or after all the non-Covid electors finished voting. The EC said two Covid-positive electors cast their vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly and one Covid-positive MP voted in Thiruvananthapuram.