Of the total 4,880 valid voters — 4,109 members of legislative Assemblies or MLAs and 771 elected members of Parliament (MPs) — 99.49 per cent on Monday voted to elect the next President of India. Three MPs and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strategists said they were confident that more than anticipated numbers of Opposition legislators and MPs voted for the National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate, Ram Nath Kovind.
The counting of votes is scheduled for July 20 but Kovind’s victory is not in doubt. The only point of interest is the margin of his victory, and whether some MLAs or MPs of the 17 Opposition parties supporting the candidature of Meira Kumar have also voted for him.
“The voting was close to 99 per cent. I think this would perhaps be the highest-ever percentage,” Anoop Mishra, Lok Sabha, secretary general and returning officer for the election, said.
Mishra said while the sanctioned strength of the Lok Sabha (LS) and the Rajya Sabha (RS) is 776 (543 and 233), 771 MPs were eligible to cast their votes. There are two vacancies each in the LS and the RS, while one BJP
MP, Chhedi Paswan, does not have voting rights, following a judicial pronouncement, he said.
Of the total 771 MPs who are entitled to vote (four vacancies and one disqualified), 768 or 99.61 per cent cast their votes.
Likewise, of the 4,109 MLAs entitled to vote (10 vacancies and one disqualified), 4,083 or 99.37 per cent cast their votes, officials said.
While the voting was through secret ballot, several Opposition legislators claimed they voted for Kovind. In Uttar Pradesh, the split in the Samajwadi Party was evident with party leader Shivpal Yadav stating that he voted for Kovind. Of the 403 UP MLAs, 402 voted.
Suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Kapil Mishra indicated that he had voted for Kovind. Rebel AAP LS MPs Harinder Singh Khalsa and Dharamvira Gandhi said they voted according to their choice and conscience.
Last week, AAP had committed to support Opposition candidate Meira Kumar. However, Khalsa said AAP has “forfeited” its right to tell him who to vote for because of its treatment to its lawmakers in Punjab.