NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind was on Thursday elected as the 14th President of India after receiving an overwhelming majority of votes from the country’s lawmakers. Kovind defeated Opposition candidate Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker after garnering 66 percent of the votes in the Electoral College, Returning Officer Anoop Mishra announced.
The 71-year-old, who will be the second Dalit to hold the top constitutional position, received 2,930 votes with a value of 7,02,044. Kovind will be the first BJP member to be elected president. He will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of India JS Khehar in the Central Hall of Parliament on 25 July.
Meanwhile, Kumar polled in 1,844 votes with a value of 3,67,314. A total of 4,896 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs — were eligible to cast their ballot. The polling was marked by cross-voting in various states, namely Gujarat, Assam, Goa, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, where many Opposition members favoured Kovind. Around 116 MPs and MLAs cross-voted.
In an address after the official announcement, Kovind thanked all those who supported him in his journey and said that the moment is emotional for him. He vowed to represent all those struggling to make a living. “I never aspired to be the president but my election is an evidence of the greatness of Indian democracy. My win is also a message to those discharging their duties with integrity,” he said.
Kovind also said that it is his duty to protect the Constitution and uphold its values as the president. “I pay my respects to my countrymen and assure them that I’ll serve the nation in the spirit of ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah’ (May all be happy),” he said.
Meira Kumar, despite her defeat, put up a brave face and congratulated Kovind for winning the election. She however, said that as of 20 July, 2017, her fight for ideology has not ended. She vowed to continue her fight for secularism, the oppressed and the marginalised. She also thanked the Opposition parties for fielding her as a candidate and supporting her throughout.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has congratulated President elect, Ram Nath Kovind on his becoming the 14th President of India.
In her congratulatory message to Kovind, the Chief Minister said his victory marks an important milestone in the political history of the country. She said the election of Kovind reflects the empowerment of underprivileged, backward, minorities and other weaker sections of the society.
Mehbooba hoped the tenure of Kovind would prove to be inspiring, encouraging and egalitarian.