There was a clash between TMC MLA and his counterparts after the former said that the latter had set the hills on fire.
New Delhi: An electorate consisting of 4,120 MLAs and 776 MPs will vote on Monday to elect the new president of the country, as Pranab Mukherjee's term as the first citizen is inching towards its end.
The contest is between former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and former Speaker Meira Kumar, with the scales tipped towards Kovind. Along with the JD(U), NDA has completely backed Kovind while 17 Opposition parties have backed Meira Kumar.
Since both the candidates are Dalit, the poll has been dubbed as a 'Dalit vs Dalit' contest, triggering the Congress to term it as a clash of ideologies.
03:10 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "It's vote against injustice. For sake of country we urge everyone to not support BJP & stand beside people."
She said, "We voted for Meira Kumar in Presidential poll to register our protest against 'present atrocities' in the country."
03:05 pm: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah voiced hope that parties facing the BJP in the states will revisit their decision to vote for NDA pick Ram Nath Kovind "considering the situation" in the country.
"There is hope that those parties, which have till now opposed the BJP and will be the target of the party in the coming state elections, might change their decision (to support Kovind) at the last moment considering the situation in the country," Omar told reporters after casting his vote at Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
"As far as the numbers are concerned, it seems the NDA has an advantage in the electoral college, but in a secret ballot you cannot show your vote to anyone," he said.
02:30 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar and senior Akali leader Parkash Singh Badal cast
their votes for the presidential poll in Haryana.
02:15 pm: Voting to elect the next President of India concluded in the Rajasthan Assembly, with 199 legislators out of 200 exercising their franchise.
Former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot cast his vote in Gujarat.
02:14 pm: 100 per cent polling recorded in voting for Presidential Poll in Himachal with all 67 MLAs casting their vote.
02:06 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis casts his vote in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
1:50 pm: Hundred per cent polling was recorded in Himachal with all 67 MLAs casting their vote. One seat is lying vacant in the 68-member House following the death of Congress MLA Karan Singh. The ruling Congress has a strength of 35 members while BJP has 28 members.
1:30 pm: By voting for Ram Nath Kovind, we've registered our protest against crimes of CPI(M), Congress & TMC: Ashish Saha, who quit TMC earlier this year.
1:20 pm: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar cast his vote in the first one hour. Goa Forward Party's Jayesh Salgaoncar and Vinod Palyekar, Congress' Philip Neri Rodrigues, Ravi Naik, Digambar Kamat and Tony Fernandes, and BJP's Pramod Sawant and Pravin Zantye were among the early voters.
1:15 pm: The impact of the Darjeeling unrest was seen during voting in West Bengal with a heated exchange between TMC MLA Paresh Pal and GJM MLAs. Pal lashed out at three GJM MLA’s saying they have set the hills on fire, according to reports.
He also claimed that West Bengal BJP President Dilip Ghosh was the reason behind the unrest, a war of words between them.
12:30 pm: Opposition candidate Meira Kumar speaks to media, says, "I have requested the members of the collegiums to pay heed to their conscience, because there is nothing purer and more powerful than that. They should consider it in the best interest and the future of the country".
She further said, “Today is a very important day. Today, the collegium will take a decision and you all know I am a candidate in this contest to fight the battle of ideology,”
The former Lok Sabha speaker, Meira Kumar said, the ideology of “social justice, inclusiveness, secularism, transparency, freedom of expression and press, poverty alleviation and total destruction of caste system” binds India together. It is very important that “we protect and preserve it”.
11:45 am: All NCP MPs & MLAs have voted for Opposition's Meira Kumar: NCP's Praful Patel
11:28 am: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik casts vote for the next president at the state Assembly.
10:59 am: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan arrives at MP Assembly to cast his vote.
10:50 am: Voting for Presidential poll underway at Assam Legislative Assembly; CM Sarbananda Sonowal also casts his vote.
10:35 am: DMK working president MK Stalin casts his vote at Tamil Nadu Assembly.
10:30 am: Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu casts his vote from the state Assembly.
10:30 am: Jailed MLAs Chhagan Bhujbal and Ramesh Kadam will be brought to Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from prison for voting.
10:25 am: UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath arrives at state Assembly in Lucknow. "This is matter of pride for the people of Uttar Pradesh, the the son of the state is going to become the President", he said. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and Union Minister Uma Bharti also cast their vote at Tilak hall, Lucknow.
10:20 am: Modi, Amit Shah cast their votes at the Parliament.
10:00 am: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister is the first person to cast his vote from state assembly premises in Chennai.
9:45 am: Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah arrive at the Parliament.
A total of 32 polling stations -- one in Parliament House and one each in the state legislative assemblies -- have been set up, officials said.
The Election Commission has appointed 33 observers who are overseeing the conduct of the election. While two observers are present in Parliament House, one each is
deployed in the respective state assemblies.
The results will be declared on July 20 in New Delhi.
Earlier, Narendra Modi had congratulated NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind a day earlier, and assured him of his government’s support.
At a meeting of the NDA MPs which was also attended by Kovind, Modi recalled that the former Bihar governor had worked as a 'sahyogi' (aide) of Morarji Desai when he was the prime minister and said this government will offer all 'sahyog' (cooperation) to him.
Kovind's win against opposition candidate Meira Kumar is a foregone conclusion as the ruling coalition has secured the support of nearly two-thirds of the electoral college, with some political parties even outside the NDA fold throwing their weight behind him.
Quoting Modi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the prime minister also offered his congratulations in advance to the Dalit leader.
Kumar also made light of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's call to MPs and MLAs for "vote of conscience", saying 40 political parties have supported Kovind's presidential bid and non-NDA chief ministers of states like Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have also announced their support for him.
"The way ahead is very clear," he said, underlining the clear majority enjoyed by the NDA candidate. On the occasion, BJP MP Bhupender Yadav made a presentation to the MPs about the voting process to ensure that they vote correctly.
Modi highlighted that the campaigns by the two presidential candidates and parties supporting them had been very dignified and showed the maturity of the Indian democracy.
During the meeting, he also noted that 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement falls on August 9 and told the MPs that country-wide events should be held between August 9 and 15, to mark the occasion.
He pitched for discussions and programmes for five years till 15 August 2022, the 75th Independence Day, aimed at pro-poor programmes and a good governance agenda.
The prime minister, Kumar told reporters, also noted that the advent of the year 2018 will mark the enrolment of "new millennial voters", those born in 2000 and after, and said they should be welcomed and made aware of their responsibilities.
Besides Kumar, BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed the MPs.