New Delhi: After 45 years of experience in active politics, Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday won the Presidential elections to become the 13th President of India. In a bitterly contested election, Mukherjee defeated PA Sangma by a huge margin. "I will try my best to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution of India," Pranab said.
Mukherjee crossed the half-way mark after the Maharashtra results were declared, making the rest of counting process a mere formality.
He established a clear lead right from the beginning when counting of votes of MPs was undertaken and maintained it across the states, except the BJP-ruled ones. He, however, sprang a huge surprise in BJP-ruled Karnataka where he got the votes of 117 MLAs against Sangma's 103 in the 224-member Assembly.
Mukherjee crossed the half-way mark after the Maharashtra results were declared, making the rest of the counting process a mere formality.
Mukherjee, 77-year-old Congress leader, brings to the top Constitutional post a wealth of experience as he has held key positions in the party and government, including holding the portfolios of Finance, Defence and External Affairs.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had kept everyone in suspense over supporting UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee till the last minute, on Sunday congratulated him for his victory in the presidential poll. Mamata, who had initially opposed the candidature of Mukherjee, had announced the support of Trinamool Congress for him two days before the election on July 19. She had then invited Pranab Mukhejee to visit West Bengal first after winning the elections.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad congratulated the veteran Congressman. "I congratulate Pranab babu.We will examine what went wrong in Karnataka."
NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel will meet Pranab Mukherjee at 11.30 am on Monday. The TMC will attend Pranab's swearing in ceromony on July 25 at 11.30 am.
After wining the election, Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday called Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and JD (U) President Sharad Yadav to thank them.
Soon after being elected the President of the country, Pranab called up Sharad Yadav and thanked him for his party's support to him. Yadav, who is the NDA convener, also congratulated Mukherjee and his family over the victory.
Yadav's party JD(U), a key ally of the NDA, has supported Mukherjee's candidature going against the BJP's decision to back PA Sangma, who was propped up by AIADMK and BJD to contest against Mukherjee. The JD(U) had made it clear that its support to Mukherjee in the Presidential contest should not be taken as an indication of the party moving closer to Congress as it has always fought the latter's policies.
(With additional inputs from PTI)