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Yashwant Sinha Vs Droupadi Murmu: India’s MPs And MLAs Vote For 15th President

With the BJP's dominance and support from regional parties such as the BJD, BSP, Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and now JMM, Murmu's vote share is likely to reach nearly two-thirds.

Yashwant Sinha Vs Droupadi Murmu: India’s MPs And MLAs Vote For 15th President
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MPs and MLAs across the country voted on Monday to elect India’s 15th president, choosing between opposition pick Yashwant Sinha and NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu who is favoured to win the battle to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

With the BJP’s dominance and support from regional parties such as the BJD, BSP, Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and now JMM, Murmu's vote share is likely to reach nearly two-thirds and she is set to become the first tribal leader and second woman to occupy the top constitutional post.

While MPs filed into Parliament’s Room No 63 that had been converted into a polling station to cast their vote, MLAs headed to state assemblies. Nearly 4,800 elected MPs and MLAs are entitled to vote in the election, but nominated MPs and MLAs, and Members of Legislative Council are not.

As polling gathered pace for a race in which the end result is seemingly clear, Sinha appealed to parliamentarians and legislators to listen to their "inner voice" and support him.

"I have repeatedly said this election is very important as it will decide the direction as to whether democracy will remain in India or will slowly end. The indications that we are getting is that we are moving towards its end," Sinha told reporters.

“There is no party whip. This is a secret ballot. I appeal to all MPs and MLAs to use their discretion and elect me to save democracy," the 84-year-old added.

The veteran politician, who visited 13 state capitals during his campaign, said he is not just fighting a political battle.

"Government agencies have become very active, they are causing split in political parties, they are compelling people to vote in a particular way and there is also a game of money involved," he alleged.

The votes will be counted on July 21 and the next president will take oath on July 25.

Though the result appeared to be a foregone conclusion, there was an element of political excitement with speculation about cross-voting in some places.

Haryana Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, who had cross-voted in last month's Rajya Sabha polls, indicated that he had supported the ruling National Democratic Alliance candidate.

"Like Rajya Sabha, I have cast my vote in this election too as per my conscience," he told reporters. Asked about his future course of action, he merely said, "I will reveal this soon."

In Mumbai, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil was confident some Congress legislators, who were absent during the Eknath Shinde government's trust vote, will vote in favour of Murmu.

"I am sure some Congress MLAs who remained absent during the vote of confidence will apply their conscience this time as well,” Patil told reporters. The Congress, he said, can’t guard its own MLAs.

Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali chose to boycott the poll and blamed the BJP-led Centre, previous Congress-led governments for not settling various issues related to Punjab and also his own party.

He said in a video message that the party leadership did not consult him or the Sikh community before deciding to extend support to Murmu. As the process of voting continued in fits and starts through the country, some scenes stood out from several parts of the country.

A visibly frail former prime minister Manmohan Singh,89, came to vote in a wheelchair. As did 82-year-old Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav who faltered while casting his vote and was given another chance. Manmohan Singh was also assisted by polling officers in exercising his franchise.

Odisha leader of opposition, BJP leader Pradipta Kumar Naik, came in a wheelchair straight from hospital where he was admitted with post-Covid complications. An oxygen cylinder accompanied him.

In Patna, BJP MLA Mithilesh Kumar, who was in a road accident about a month ago, arrived on a stretcher to cast his vote.

And in Chennai, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, the first to vote in the secretariat complex, reached the polling booth straight from a hospital after being discharged following his recovery from Covid.

Other early voters in various cities included Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Maharashtra’s Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as well as Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

As Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla put it, elections in India are celebrated as a festival. And since the election to the president is underway, it should also be celebrated, he said.

Members should participate in the festival, the speaker said while adjourning the House till 2 pm in the morning so MPs could go and vote.

The system of secret ballot is followed in the presidential election, and parties cannot issue whips to their MPs and MLAs with regard to voting. The value of the vote of an MP has gone down to 700 from 708 in this presidential poll due to the absence of a legislative assembly in Jammu and Kashmir.

The value of vote of an MLA varies in different states. In Uttar Pradesh, the value is 208, followed by 176 in Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. In Maharashtra, it is 175. In Sikkim, the value of vote per MLA is seven, while it is nine in Nagaland and eight in Mizoram.

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In accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote, every elector can mark as many preferences as there are candidates contesting the election.

These preferences for the candidates are to be marked by the elector, by placing the figures 1,2,3, 4, 5 and so on, against the names of the candidates in the order of preference in column 2 of the ballot paper.

According to the Election Commission's directions, while MPs get a green ballot paper, the MLAs get a pink ballot paper. The separate colours help the returning officer ascertain the value of vote of each MLA and MP.

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Seeking to maintain secrecy of voting, the EC issued a specially designed pen with violet ink to enable voters mark their ballot papers. Murmu, who at 64 could be among the youngest presidents of India, did not speak today but said on Sunday that tribals and women are delighted over her nomination.

"There are around 10 crore tribals with more 700 communities, and all

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