Ram Nath Kovind has been elected by legislators as 14th President of India, becoming the first BJP member and the only the second Dalit to occupy the country's highest office. Kovind, the candidate supported by the ruling NDA, trumped Opposition's nominee Meira Kumar by securing 65.65 per cent of total votes polled. He will take oath as President of India at the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi on July 25, succeeding President Pranab Mukherjee, for a five-year term.
Kovind is only the second person from the Scheduled Caste to occupy the highest Constitutional position in the country after KR Narayanan.
The former Governor of Bihar secured 7,02,044 votes value while Meira's votes have a value of 3,67,314 in the Electoral College system. The final result count indicates that despite the support announced by Opposition parties, many of their legislators voted in favour of Kovind.
A total of 4,896 voters -- 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs -- were eligible to cast their ballot. While a vote of an MP carries the value of 708, the weightage of MLAs vary with the population of the state from where the legislator is elected. Close to 99 per cent voting was recorded for electing India's next President. 71-year old Kovind received 2930 votes and his opponent got 1844 votes, the returning officer, Anoop Mishra, said.
Expressing happiness over the "extensive" support Kovind got from the electoral college, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind Ji on being elected the President of India! Best wishes for a fruitful & inspiring tenure."
Both the candidates toured the country to garner support in their favour after being nominated by their respective camps. While Kovind was assured of victory after the NDA and some regional parties announced support in his favour, Kumar had appealed to legislators to vote according to their conscience. She had termed her candidature a 'fight of ideologies'.
Kovind will also be the first person from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and from Uttar Pradesh to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan at New Delhi's Raisina Hill. If Venkaiah Naidu succeeds in winning the Vice-Presidential election on August 5, it will only be the first time in the history of independent India, that the Prime Minister, the President and the Vice-President all will be from the RSS.
The Vice-Presidential election will be held on August 5.
While BJP has nominated a former party president, Venkaiah Naidu, the opposition has fielded former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.
"I never aspired to be the president. My win is a message to those discharging their duties with integrity. My election as the President is an evidence of the greatness of Indian democracy," an Kovind told the media after his victory was announced. "I am feeling emotional."
Congratulating her poll rival, Kumar said it had fallen on Kovind to uphold the Constitution in letter and spirit in "these challenging times".
Kumar said that her fight for secularism, the oppressed and the marginalised would continue.
Modi also congratulated Kumar for her campaign, saying it was "in the spirit of democratic ethos and values we all are proud of".
Hailing as "historic" Kovind's election, BJP chief Amit Shah said it is a "victory for the poor, downtrodden and marginalised and their aspirations".