Ram Nath Kovind is 14th President
Ram Nath Kovind, the ruling NDA coalition' s candidate, was on Thursday elected as India's 14th President with an overwhelming majority of votes from the country's lawmakers.
Kovind defeated the joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker, garnering 65.65 percent of the votes in the Electoral College, the Returning Officer for the poll announced Thursday.
Expressing happiness over the "extensive" support Kovind got from the electoral college, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said,"Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind Ji on being elected the President of India! Best wishes for a fruitful & inspiring tenure."
The 71-year old Kovind, a former Bihar governor who will be the second Dalit to hold the top constitutional position, received 2930 votes with a value of 7,02044, the returning officer, Anoop Mishra, said.
Kovind is the first BJP member to be elected president.
He will take oath on July 25, succeeding President Pranab Mukherjee, for a five-year term.
Kumar, also a Dalit, polled 1844 votes with a value of 367314. She got 34.35 percent vote share.
"I never aspired to be the president. My win is a message to those discharging their duties with integrity. My election as the President is an evidence of the greatness of Indian democracy," Kovind told the media after his victory was announced.
Congratulating her poll rival, Kumar said it had fallen on Kovind to uphold the Constitution in letter and spirit in "these challenging times".
Hailing as "historic" Kovind's election, BJP chief Amit Shah said it is a "victory for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised and their aspirations".
A total of 4,896 voters -- 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs -- were eligible to cast their ballot. MLCs of states with legislative councils are not part of the electoral college.
The Electoral College comprises of Members of Parliament and members of legislative assemblies of all states.
While 522 MPs voted for Kovind, Kumar secured the support of 225 parliamentarians.
Kovind's election as the next president of India was never in doubt but the large scale cross-voting in seven states throws up a big worry for the opposition, especially ahead of polls in Gujarat later this year.
Many in the opposition voted for Kovind rather than their own candidate Meira Kumar in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Punjab, Assam and Tripura.
In Gujarat, at least 11 Congress MLAs are believed to have voted for Kovind, who won 11 more votes than the BJP's 121 lawmakers.
Two of the four MPs of Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab are believed to have voted for Kovind.
In West Bengal, Kovind won 11 votes though the BJP and its allies have only six votes in the state.
In Tripura, where the BJP has zero lawmakers, Kovind won seven votes.
In Maharashtra, Meira Kumar won 77 votes but was expecting at least 10 more. It is clear that some members of the Congress, NCP or Left voted with the BJP-led combine for Kovind.
In Goa, the ruling BJP and its allies have 22 lawmakers but Kovind got three more; at least two Congress members are believed to have voted with the rival side.
In Uttar Pradesh, at least eight opposition lawmakers are said to have cross-voted.