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Pranab Mukherjee new President of India

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Pranab Mukherjee was today elected as the 14th President of India, marking a new journey for the veteran Congress leader after over four decades of life in active politics.

Mr Mukherjee, UPA nominee, got 564,469 vote value, well beyond the half-way mark of 525,140 in an electoral college of over 10.5 lakh when counting of votes polled by the MPs and MLAs of 20 of the 30 States was completed.

His rival P A Sangma, who was backed by BJP and some other opposition parties like AIADMK and BJD, could manage only 2,57,466 vote value, according to Rajya Sabha Secretary General V K Agnihotri, who is the Returning Officer for the poll.

Mr Mukherjee, 76-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.

He established a clear lead right from the beginning when counting of votes of MPs completed and maintained it across the States, except the BJP-ruled ones. He sprang a surprise in BJP-ruled Karnataka where he got the votes of 117 MLAs against BJP’s 103 in the 224—member Assembly.

Out of 748 MPs, who had voted, he secured 527 votes with a value of 3,73,116 against 206 for Mr Sangma which has a value of 145,848.

Fifteen votes including that of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav were invalid. Of these, nine were to be in favour of Mr Mukherjee while six for Mr Sangma.

Voting for the Presidential election took place on July 19. The electoral college for the poll comprises MPs and MLAs.

Ministers greet Pranab

As Mr Mukherjee headed for victory, senior ministers, including A K Antony and P Chidambaram, went to his 13, Talkatora Road residence to greet him.

“He will be a great President. We wish him all the success,” Mr Chidambaram told reporters outside his residence.

As expected, Mr Mukherjee won with the backing of UPA partners, including Trinamool Congress which had announced its support only at the last minute. Outside supporters of UPA, including Samajwadi Party and BSP, besides some opposition parties like JD(U) and Shiv Sena also voted in his favour.

Clean sweep in Kerala

In Kerala, it was a clean sweep for Mr Mukherjee as he got all the 124 votes polled while one was invalid. Mr Sangma drew a blank. CPI and RSP members abstained from voting.

In neighbouring BJP-ruled Karnataka, there has been apparent cross-voting. Mr Mukherjee got the majority votes in the 224-member Assembly with 117 MLAs voting for him. Mr Sangma could get only 103 votes while three votes were invalid. One MLA did not vote.

The Congress had expected only 102 votes, including that of H D Deve Gowda-led JD(S).

Mr Sangma, as expected, scored heavily in States ruled by BJP, like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Goa.

Strangely in Jharkhand where BJP shares power with JMM, Mr Sangma got the votes of only 20 MLAs. JMM voted for Mr Mukherjee.

The electoral college included 4120 MLAs in the States.