It is advantage Pranab Mukherjee, the UPA’s candidate, as lawmakers yesterday voted to elect the country’s 13th president, recording a massive turnout that could be anywhere close to 95 per cent.
Mukherjee was in a direct contest with opposition-backed PA Sangma in the elections for which polling began at 10 am and ended at 5 pm in Parliament House and in assembly complexes in the states and union territories with legislatures.
The counting will take place on Sunday when the winner of the contest will be known, though it is almost clear that Mukherjee will romp home with a massive 7,35,000 of the 10,97,000 votes from among 4,896 electors — 776 MPs and 4,120 assembly members.
Bapi Raju Kanumuri, the Congress MP from Narsapuram in Andhra Pradesh, was the first MP to vote in Parliament House. “My blessings are with Pranabda. I was the first to vote,” Kanumuri said, as he came out of the polling station.
Sangma, however, said he was “hopeful” despite the numbers being stacked against him. “Look at my face, I am hopeful,” Sangma said. He is expected to bag about 3,13,000 votes.
At the end of the voting, the returning officer and Rajya Sabha Secretary General VK Agnihotri said that “the polling was conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner in all the designated places for voting.”
However, some anxious moments were witnessed after SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav reportedly voted for Sangma by mistake and later returned his ballot paper to the returning officer claiming it was torn. He was permitted to cast a fresh ballot by Agnihotri.
This was enough for the Sangma camp to protest and they also lodged a written complaint with Agnihotri, asking him to consider the first ballot offered to Mulayam Singh for counting and not the replacement provided by the polling officers. “I have sent the complaint to the Election Commission for a decision,” Agnihotri added.