New Delhi: India on Thursday will know who will succeed incumbent Ram Nath Kovind to become the country’s 15th President, as counting of votes for the presidential election begins at 11am at the Parliament House here.
Ruling NDA’s Draupadi Murmu and Opposition’s Yashwant Sinha are pitted against each other in the contest, with votes clearly stacked in favour of Murmu, who, if elected, will be the first tribal woman to occupy the top constitutional post in the country.
Kovind’s tenure is ending on July 24 and the new president will take oath on July 25.
With ballot boxes from all states having reached the Parliament House, poll officials are ready for the counting in room number 63, the strongroom of Parliament where the boxes are guarded behind a round the clock security.
Rajya Sabha Secretary General P C Mody, who is the Chief Returning Officer for the poll, will oversee the counting Thursday, the result of which is likely to be declared by the evening.
Mody will first brief on the poll trends after all votes of MPs have been counted, and then again after votes of 10 states in alphabetical order have been counted.
Sources said he will brief once more on the poll trends after votes of 20 states have been counted, and then finally declare the result after the total counting.
All ballot boxes from state assemblies had reached the Parliament’s strongroom on Tuesday evening and have been locked there since. The ballot boxes had been flown into the national capital as ‘Mr Ballot Box’ from across the states.
‘Mr Ballot Box’ came seated in the front row of aircraft under the watchful gaze of the Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) of their respective states.
The Election Commission had on Monday posted photographs of the sealed ballot boxes onboard flights accompanied by AROs.
According to the EC, each ballot box was issued an e-ticket under the name ‘Mr Ballot Box’.
Polling for the presidential election was held between 10am to 5pm Monday at 31 locations including the Parliament house and 30 centres within state legislative assemblies.
There are also reports of cross-voting in favour of Murmu in a number of states. There is no whip issued to members in the presidential poll.
MPs of both, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, except nominated MPs, and all MLAs in legislative assembly in all states act as electors in the presidential poll.
A total of 4,809 electors, comprising 776 MPs and 4,033 elected MLAs, are entitled to vote in the election, but nominated MPs and MLAs, and Members of Legislative Council are not.
Over 99 per cent of the total electors had cast their ballot in the poll that took place Monday, according to the Election Commission.
Eight MPs, including BJP MPs Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dhotre, were among those who missed casting their votes.
Actor-politician Deol missed voting since he is abroad for medical treatment, while Dhotre gave it a pass since he was in the ICU.
Two MPs each from BJP and Shiv Sena, and one each from the BSP, Congress, SP, and AIMIM missed voting in the Monday polls.
Kovind had become the President after polling 7,02,044 votes out of a total of 10,69,358 votes, while his rival Meira Kumar polled only 3,67,314 votes.