India was today elected to the United Nations Security Council after a gap of 19 years, with substantial support, taking over from Japan a position which would help it push more aggressively for the reform of the world body's top organ.
Out of the 191 countries that voted, India received 187 votes, including Pakistan's, India's envoy to the UN Hardeep Puri said, after the ballot.
While one member state abstained from the vote, three votes were polled against India. However, it was not clear which three countries voted against India.
The votes polled by India -- 98 per cent of the total membership -- were the highest among the votes polled by all the states elected today.
All contesting states needed the support of at least 128 members or a two thirds majority.
Following the vote, India's top diplomat at the UN, Puri underlined that India would bring the representation of a major chunk of the world's population to the UN's powerful organ that handles international peace and security.
"We bring the voice of 1/6th of humanity, we have 63 years of experience in nation building and that is what the UN can use," said Puri.
"We have experience in peacekeeping, we would like to transcend that into peace building," he said, pointing out that India had contributed 100,000 troops in UN peacekeeping operations around the world.
Other countries who were elected to the UNSC today are South Africa, Colombia, Germany and Portugal. The new members take their places in the Council from January, 2011.
While India, South Africa and Columbia were voted in an uncontested race for their respective blocks, Canada, which was in a three-way battle with Portugal and Germany, received the least number of votes and eventually withdrew after the second round of voting.
The five new countries will be will be replacing Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda.
Three of the new members are part of the G4 (India, Brazil, Japan and Germany), which want to become permanent members.
India is hoping that change comes in the next two years while it is already in the Council.
"It is a fact that many of the countries that will be on the Council next year are also aspirants for permanent membership," Puri said, after the voting.
"Naturally all of us will try and use the time that we have during this two year tenure to also give our partners a sense of confidence and build trust so that they are comfortable with our membership of the Security Council on an extended basis," he added.
India has already highlighted the significance of all the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) being on the Council together, which could present a united front on several contentious international issues.
India has also pointed out that IBSA, which is a trilateral forum for South-South cooperation between India, Brazil and South Africa, will now also be on the Council together.
In February, India's candidacy was endorsed by the Asian Group but it still had to get the support of two-thirds of the countries in the General Assembly, which means 128 countries saying "yes".
"We were an endorsed candidate but there was a contest... But the endorsement came after a long campaign. We are humbled by the number 187," Puri said.
"This reinforces our commitment to work in the Council along with others to issues we have always given priority," he said.
Among the three members who voted against India, one apparently voted for Pakistan while the other for Swaziland. Details of the third vote were not immediately known.
Responding to the one vote which Pakistan received during the vote, Puri asserted that Islamabad had not cast this vote because it had voted for New Delhi.
"Well I know that Pakistan voted for India... So that particular vote was not cast by Pakistan... I don't want to comment on the state of mind of the person who put it in," he said.
India, which is a founding member of the UN, is returning to the Security Council after a gap of 19 years.
It has been on the Council six times earlier -- having last served in 1992.
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