New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Counting of votes for the presidential poll began here Sunday with the ruling UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee holding a clear winning edge over his rival P.A. Sangma.
Officials opened the ballot boxes in Room 63 of Parliament House with representatives from both candidates present.
The first wooden box that was opened contained the votes of MPs cast in Delhi Thursday when the election took place.
Congress leaders including Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla were in the room.
About 95 percent of the 4,896 electorate exercised their franchise to elect India's 13th president at polling centres set up at Parliament House and 30 other state and union territories.
Mukherjee is expected to bag 735,000 votes.
The president is elected by an electoral college of MPs and members of state assemblies.
All MPs except those nominated to parliament are eligible to vote. There are 776 MPs, and each MP's vote equals 708 votes.
There were 4,120 assembly members eligible to vote. The value of a legislator's vote is variable depending on the population of the state the member represents.
Besides the support of the UPA led by the Congress, Mukherjee also enjoyed the backing of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal-Secular.
Constituents of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Janata Dal-United and Shiv Sena also extended their support to the former finance minister besides the CPI-M and Forward Bloc.
Sangma, a member of the Meghalaya assembly, is supported by the BJP, Akali Dal, Asom Gana Parishad, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal.
The CPI, Telugu Desam Party and Telangana Rashtriya Samiti abstained from voting.