New Delhi, July 17: Race to the Raisina Hill would come to an end on Monday as lawmakers across the nation would cast their vote to elect the next President. The poll battle is primarily a contest between NDA’s Ramnath Kovind and Opposition candidate Meira Kumar. Also Read - Farm laws: Punjab CM asks state MLAs to accompany him for meeting with President
Voting would be held between 10 AM to 5 PM at the Parliament, along with the respective Legislative Assemblies of 29 states and two union territories. The total number of voters, eligible to choose the designate for the highest constitutional post, amount to 4,896 – comprising of 543 Lok Sabha MPs, 233 Rajya Sabha MPs and 4,120 MLAs. Also Read - Mary Kom Breaks Quarantine Protocol by Attending Breakfast Hosted by President Ramnath Kovind
NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind holds the edge moving into the presidential battle, as the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies dominate the electoral college. Further decimating the Opposition, the saffron party indulged in efficient electioneering in the run-up to the polls, claiming the support of JD(U), BJD, TRS, YSR Congress and AIADMK from the non-NDA camp. ALSO READ: Presidential Poll Crucial, Cannot Allow India to Become Hostage to Communal and Divisive Vision: Sonia Gandhi Also Read - Hectic Politicking Continues Even After Imposition of President's Rule in Maharashtra | Top Developments
According to Livemint, the total electoral value of lawmakers affiliated to BJP and its allies, in the presidential poll, amounts to 5,37,683 votes. Despite the stated electoral strength of NDA, Kovind was falling short of 12,000 votes. However, the support sought from JD(U), BJD, TRS, YSR Congress and AIADMK would be more than suffice to bridge the gap.
In case of no defiance of the party line, Kovind is poised to bag 62.7 per cent of the votes, reported NDTV. On the other hand, his rival Meira Kumar, jointly fielded by 17-member Opposition bloc, is expected to secure 35.4 per cent of the votes.
In the meeting with Opposition leaders on Sunday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi conceded the fact that numbers are stacked up against their nominee Meira Kumar. “Numbers may be against us. But battle must be fought, and fought hard,” the senior leader said, further labelling the presidential battle as a “fight against communalism”. ALSO READ: PM Modi Calls Presidential Election 2017 ‘Historic’, Appeals Lawmakers to ‘Not to Waste a Single Vote’
“We cannot and must not let India become hostage to those who wish to impose upon it a narrow minded, divisive and communal vision. In such testing times, we have to unit and safeguard the values of secularism, inclusiveness and harmony,” Sonia Gandhi told the representatives of the 17 political parties who met in the national capital.
Describing the President as “protector of the Constitution”, she appealed the non-NDA lawmakers to elect the leader who can “safeguard the vision of India, for which Mahatma Gandhi fought for”.
Prior to the meeting of Opposition leaders, Centre held an all-party meet which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Crediting the Opposition and ruling camp for maintaining dignity of language in the electioneering for presidential polls, Modi said India’s democracy has once again set an example before the world.
The polls today will be held under the watch of 33 Election Commission-appointed observers – 1 each in Legislative Assemblies and 2 in Parliament. The voting would be held through ballot papers. Counting would be held on July 20.