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17.07.2017 19:43 News >> Indian Lawmakers Vote For New President

Indian Lawmakers Vote For New President

Lawmakers on Monday voted to pick India's new president in an election likely to be won by a candidate backed by the ruling party.

Bihar state ex-Governor Ram Nath Kovind is a candidate backed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Lok Sabha's (lower house of parliament) Speaker Meira Kumar is an opposition-backed candidate.

Both Kovind and Kumar are from Dalit (formerly untouchable) caste.

The Election Commission had appointed 33 observers, who are overseeing the conduct of the election. Two of the observers were present in the Parliament House, according to a press statement.

Voting began at 10 a.m. local time (0430GMT) and continued till 5 p.m. local time (1130GMT) in the evening. The result will be announced on July 20.

Indian presidents are elected by electorate college comprising elected representatives of both houses of the parliament -- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha -- and members of state assemblies.

A total of 4,896 voters -- 4,120 members of legislative assembly and 776 elected members of the parliament -- were eligible to cast their ballots.

Kovind has an edge over opposition candidate Kumar. The BJP and allies have almost 60 percent of the votes in their favour.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first to cast the vote on Monday, while congratulating Kovind in advance.

He said: "The presidential poll this time is historic. Probably for the first time, no party made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate."

Kumar, who is an opposition candidate, told media: "Today is a very important day. Today the collegium will take a decision. This contest is to fight for social justice, transparency, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of press."

"It's an ideology that binds us together. I ask members of collegium to pay heed to the voice of their conscience and keep the best interest of the country in mind," she added.

The tenure of the present President Pranab Mukherjee will end on July 24. -



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