New Delhi: Polling began on Thursday in Parliament House and state capitals for electing a new President in a race that appears clearly in favour of UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee, who faces PA Sangma sponsored by some Opposition parties.
Brisk polling was witnessed in the early hours with MK Alagiri of the DMK, opposition BJD MPs led by B Mahtab and Pratap Singh Bajwa of the Congress among the early voters.
Besides the UPA and its four supporting parties - the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the RJD and the JD(S) - NDA members JD(U) and Shiv Sena as well as the CPI(M) and Forward Bloc have declared their support for Pranab.
The CPI, RSP, the Telugu Desam Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which together have about 36,000 votes, are likely to abstain from voting. Meanwhile, YSR Congress's Jagan Mohan Reddy is likely to support Pranab Mukherjee.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, however, has said it will abstain.
Sangma, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, jumped into the fray playing the tribal card with initial support of the BJD and AIADMK. The BJP and Akali Dal decided to back Sangma, who quit the NCP, the party he founded with Sharad Pawar, to contest the election.
Presidential election: The process
The President of India is elected by an electoral college comprising MPs and MLAs.
- 776 MPs, all except nominated ones, cast their vote.
- 4120 MLAs cast their vote.
- 708 votes is the value of each MP's vote.
- Meanwhile, the value of an MLA's vote is variable. It depends on the population of the state the MLA represents.
Pranab vs Sangma: How the numbers stack up
Support for Pranab: UPA (+TMC) + RJD + SP + BSP + JDS + CPM + FB + NDA allies (Shiv Sena and JDU) = 66.7 per cent
Support for Sangma: BJP + SAD + JMM + BJD + AIADMK = 30.3 per cent
Undecided parties: TDP + others = 3 per cent
(With additional information from PTI)