Deck stacked in favour of Droupadi Murmu as India’s next President
Voting for the presidential poll ended on Monday, with the 98.9 per cent of the electors permitted to exercise their franchise in Parliament House, said Returning Officer P C Mody.
The deck is stacked in favour of Droupadi Murmu, Santhal tribal from Odisha, former governor and minister in the Odisha state government. The result will be announced on July 21 after counting on July 20. Current President Ram Nath Kovind’s term ends on July 25.
Briefing reporters after the voting, Mody said of the 736 electors — comprising 727 Members of Parliament (MPs) and nine Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) permitted by the Election Commission of India to vote at Parliament House — 728 (719 MPs and nine MLAs) cast their ballot.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sunny Deol was among the nine MPs who didn’t cast their vote. Janata Dal United’s Bashishtha Narayan Singh is in hospital.
Voting went on briskly and former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha MP Mulayam Singh Yadav came in a wheelchair to cast their vote.
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Former prime minister Manmohan Singh casts his vote for the President, at Parliament House
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman arrived in full personal protective equipment kit to vote as she is suffering from Covid, as did Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin.
Evidence that there has been cross-voting will be available only after the results are out, but there is no doubt that there will be extensive cross-voting. No Whips are issued for a presidential election. Expecting this, Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha said all voters must heed the voice of their conscience when casting their vote. However, the party that has fielded him — Trinamool Congress — also said the same thing, showing lack of confidence on the part of the Opposition in its own candidate.
Odisha Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim voted for National Democratic Alliance (NDA) presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu. “I have voted for the daughter of the soil,” said the Congress MLA.
Gujarat Nationalist Congress Party MLA Kandhal S Jadeja also said he voted for Murmu.
Murmu was selected by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) parliamentary board, from a long list of nearly 20 candidates to figure on the list.
In a parallel, the Opposition had another meeting to hold discussions on the strategy for the election of Vice-President, due on August 5. Former governors Jagdeep Dhankhar and Margaret Alva — the NDA and Opposition candidates — will face off in a contest, the outcome of which is no doubt as the votes are cast via an electoral college comprising all MPs of the two Houses and the BJP’s huge majority in the Lower House makes the outcome a foregone conclusion.
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