New Delhi: An unprecedented 99 per cent voting was recorded in the presidential elections on Monday with many parties openly cross-voting in favour of NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind, whose victory was a forgone conclusion given the strong arithmetic in his favour.
“In around 9-10 states, there was 100 per cent polling while overall 99 per cent polling was reported,” said the returning officer, Lok Sabha secretary-general Anup Mishra.
While six Trinamul Congress MLAs from Tripura voted in favour of Mr Kovind, Samajwadi Party’s Shivpal Yadav said in Lucknow that a section of SP MLAs and MPs had also voted in favour of the NDA nominee after instructions from party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. A section of AAP MLAs and MPs are also said to have voted in favour of Mr Kovind despite Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal supporting the Opposition presidential candidate, Ms Meira Kumar.
BJP’s Delhi MLA Om Prakash Sharma claimed at least “10-12 AAP MLAs” had voted for Mr Kovind.
On the other side, BJP’s Gujarat MLA Nalin Kotadia voted for Ms Kumar over the Patidar agitation issue.
The NCP, meanwhile, denied reports that some of its MLAs and MPs had cross-voted, and asserted that the party stood firm in its support for Ms Kumar.
“The rumours that NCP MPs and MLAs are voting for the NDA presidential candidate are false. We are voting for our candidate Meira Kumar,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
The states/UTs which recorded 100 per cent voting are Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Puducherry.
The sanctioned strength of both Houses of Parliament is 776, out of which 771 MPs were eligible to cast their votes. There are two vacancies each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, while one BJP MP, Chedi Paswan, does not have voting rights.
Though 717 MPs were to cast their vote in New Delhi, only 714 cast their ballot. Missing in action were the TMC’s Tapas Pal, BJD’s Ram Chandra Hansdak and Ambumani Ramadoss of PMK.
Fifty-four MPs, including former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya and Union minister Uma Bharti had sought permission to cast their votes in state capitals. BJP president Amit Shah, who is an MLA from Gujarat, had also sought permission to cast his vote in Delhi. All Trinamul MPs cast their votes in Kolkata.
In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first person to cast his vote. Mr Modi is understood to have reached a good four minutes before the election process was due to begin.
The counting of votes will take place at 11am on Thursday, July 20. The first ballot box to be opened will be the one from Parliament House, after which the ballot boxes received from the states will be counted on an alphabetical basis. The votes will be counted on four separate tables, and there will be eight counting rounds.
A total of 4,896 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs — were eligible to vote in the presidential polls. The MLCs of states with a Legislative Council are not part of the electoral college. While the value of an MLA’s vote depends on the population of the state he or she belongs to, the value of an MP’s vote remains the same, at 708.