New Delhi: Voting for the election of the 14th President of India has officially ended with polls showcasing two veteran politicians pitted against each other. Counting will be held on July 20 at 11 am.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance nominee, 71-year-old Ram Nath Kovind, is expected to win the polls, described by his rival, opposition candidate Meira Kumar, as a battle of ideologies. President Pranab Mukherjee's tenure ends on July 24. It will be only the second time that India has had a Dalit head of state.
The electoral college of the presidential election comprises 4,120 MLAs and 776 MPs with a total vote value of 10,98,903 -- 549,408 for 543 Lok Sabha and 233 Rajya Sabha parliamentarians, and 549,495 for 4,120 legislators in state assemblies. The halfway mark is expected to be 549,442, but that will depend on the number of valid votes. Kovind is expected to garner more than 70 per cent of the votes as the NDA enjoys a brute majority in the Lok Sabha and in also 17 states. PM Modi before casting his vote in the morning said, "The presidential poll this time is historic. Probably for the first time no party has made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate."
Meira Kumar, the daughter of freedom fighter Jagjivan Ram, was a diplomat before entering politics in 1985 and became India's first woman speaker in 2009. Her nomination, which followed Kovind's, was seen by many as the opposition's attempt to counter Modi's move to woo dalits.