- BJP allies back Ram Nath Kovind, Opposition backs Meira Kumar
- Lawmakers cast votes with special violet ink
- Votes to be counted on Thursday, new President to take oath on July 25
Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Puducherry recorded 100 per cent voting. "The voting was close to 99 per cent. I think this would perhaps be the highest ever percentage," Lok Sabha Secretary General and returning officer for the election Anoop Mishra said at a press conference in Delhi.
From 10 am to 5 pm today, lawmakers of both houses in Parliament and members of legislatures in states, voted in special booths set up for the Presidential elections. MPs voted on green paper ballots and state lawmakers on pink. They were given unique serial-numbered special pens with violet ink.
Ballot boxes from the states will be flown to Delhi and stored in Room 62 in Parliament. Votes will be counted and results will be announced on Thursday, July 20. The new President will take oath on Tuesday, July 25.
Ram Nath Kovind, 71, is backed not just by the NDA but also several regional parties like Tamil Nadu's AIADMK. The government says it has the support of 44 parties from across the country and expects to get nearly 70 per cent of the total votes.
Meira Kumar said, "I have asked members of the collegium to pay heed to their voice of inner conscience."
A 17-member bloc of opposition parties had announced Meira Kumar's candidacy days after the BJP named its nominee. PM Modi's choice of a Dalit candidate was seen as a masterstroke to divide the opposition and keep allies together as well as a move to consolidate its growing support among politically vital backward castes.
By also fielding a Dalit leader, the opposition retained the support of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who draws her core support from the community. "After the election, who so ever wins, it is going to be a Dalit President. So it is great for the country," Ms Maywati said today.
As he arrived in Parliament today, PM Modi said the Monsoon session that begins today will be "a good one," and thanked all parties for their contribution in launching mega reform the Goods and Services Tax or GST. "Growing Stronger Together is the other name of GST, the PM said, hoping that the spirit of cooperation would continue to mark the session.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) broke ranks with the opposition to support for Ram Nath Kovind and the BJP's partner Shiv Sena, which has in the last two Presidential elections voted against its own alliance, too has supported Mr Kovind.
Mr Kumar's support to Mr Kovind came as a big blow to the opposition, which had picked the Presidential elections as an occasion to forge an anti-BJP bloc ahead of the 2019 general elections. His choice also revealed his growing rift with Lalu Yadav, his partner in Bihar, triggering speculation about a split.
Follow detailed coverage on Presidential Election 2017 here