Ram Nath Kovind was elected as India’s 14 President as an overwhelming 65.65 per cent of the elected representatives voted in his favour making him a clear winner against opposition’s nominee Meira Kumar who got support of 34.35 percent voters.
Cross-voting in favour of Kovind left the Congress red-faced particularly in key states like Gujarat where assembly elections are due to be held. Kovind attracting more votes than the NDA’s share meant that the opposition’s unity against the ruling dispensation ahead of the 2019 general elections proved to be a non-starter. “Kovind secured 2930 votes with a value of 7,02,044. Meira Kumar got 1844 votes with the value of 367314 and 77 votes were invalid,” said Anoop Mishra, the returning officer for the presidential poll.
The election had seen around 99 per cent voting. Kovind’s election was a foregone conclusion as the NDA had an upper hand in electoral college. Kovind got votes of 522 MPs, while Kumar was favoured by 225 members of Parliament. The two houses have 776 MPs (543 Lok Sabha and 233 Rajya Sabha) out of which 768 had voted. Twenty one votes were found to be invalid on technical grounds resulting in 747 valid votes. “Kovind secured 2930 votes with a value of 7,02,044 while Meira Kumar got 1,844 votes with the value of 3,67,314. Seventy seven votes were invalid,” said the returning officer.
In several states, Kovind got more votes than the NDA’s strength. In Maharashtra, the NDA (BJP and Shiv Sena) had 185 members, but Kovind secured 208 votes. On the other hand, Kumar got 49 votes in Maharashtra against the expected 87. The major blow for the Congress came in Gujarat, where out of 57 MLAs belonging to the party, 49 voted for Kumar. The BJP has 132 MLAs in the 182-member house. The infighting in the Congress camp came to the fore as leader of opposition Shankersinh Vaghela’s loyalists voted against the party line.
In West Bengal, where NDA had only six members, Kovind got 11 votes. Kumar got 273 votes in the states against the strength of 281. Ten votes were declared invalid. A surprise was in store in Tripura too, where Kovind got seven votes when only two TMC MLAs had declared support for the NDA candidate. The Left have 51 MLAs in Tripura and the Congress has 7. Five votes either from Left or the Congress switched sides. Even in Madhya Pradesh, Kovind got more votes than NDA’s strength. Kovind got 171 votes in the state when the BJP has 165 MLAs. Kumar got 57 votes when the Congress and BSP has a strength of 60 in the assembly.
In his first comments after his election, Kovind told reporters at his Akbar Road residence that he had never thought or aspired to be the president, but his tireless service to his society and country had brought him to this position. “It is a very emotional moment for me personally. It is raining in Delhi and it reminds me of days in my village. It was a kachcha home with a thatched roof, which couldn’t stop water during the rains. We brothers and sisters would huddle around a wall waiting for the rain to stop. There would be so many Ram Nath Kovinds in the country today, getting drenched in rains, doing farm work, labour and sweating it out so that they can get their evening meals. I want to tell them that this Ram Nath Kovind of Paraunkh village is going to Rashtrapati Bhavan as their representative,” the president-elect added.