New Delhi: Parliamentarians and legislators across India began voting on Monday to elect the country’s 14th President in what is a direct contest between ruling NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and opposition-backed Meira Kumar.
Polling to choose the successor of incumbent Pranab Mukherjee, who demits office on July 25, started simultaneously in the national and state capitals at 10 a.m.
All elected MPs and MLAs are eligible to cast their vote. The voting is through secret ballot. As voting picked up, many MPs, including women members, were seen queuing up in Parliament House outside the polling booth in Room No 62 for the voting that ends at 5 p.m.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were among the first to cast their votes in Parliament. Modi, clad in a beige colour sleeveless jacket over a white kurta-pyjama, reached the parliament premises early to vote. It is also the first day of the over three-week monsoon session of Parliament.
The Prime Minister said the session was expected to herald in a new hope for India. “Today the monsoon session begins. Like the monsoon brings hope, this session also brings same spirit of hope,” Modi said before casting his vote.
Shah, who is an MLA from Gujarat and was allowed to cast his vote in Parliament, also used his franchise in the contest between Kovind and Kumar, who was a former Lok Sabha Speaker.
MPs were voying on green paper ballots and state lawmakers on pink. They cannot use their own pens to vote and were given unique serial-numbered special pens with violet ink. After voting ends, ballot boxes from the states would be flown to Delhi and stored in Parliament. The votes would be counted and results would be announced on July 20.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said before leaving for Parliament to vote “Kovindji will win with a comfortable and respectable margin,” Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said before leaving for Parliament to vote.
The total value of votes of the electoral college is 10,98,903, and the NDA candidate is slated to cross the halfway-mark and get about 63 per cent votes. If elected, 71-year-old Kovind will be the second Dalit to become President after K.R. Narayanan, who was the 10th President.
Ayodhya LIVE: SC orders allotment of alternative land to Muslims for mosque
The Supreme Court on Saturday pronounced its verdict in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya. The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, includes Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
The Ayodhya dispute, India’s longest-running historical, political and socio-religious debate, culminated on Saturday when the country’s Supreme Court ruled on the title suit of the 2.77 acre land in this Uttar Pradesh town that is claimed both by Hindus and Muslims.
There was unprecedented security in Uttar Pradesh as well as other parts of India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that the judgement would not be anyone’s ‘victory or defeat’ but ‘would give strength to India’s tradition of peace, unity and amity’.
Here are highlights from the verdict:
* Sharp at 10.30 am, the 5-judge bench assembled to read out the verdict.
* The bench dismissed the appeal of the Shia Waqf Board, pronouncing an unanimous verdict in the case. Shia Waqf board’s claim was over the disputed structure. Court says the land is held by the government, according to revenue records.
* SC said the disputed land was government land in revenue records.
* SC referred to the content of the lawsuit of devotee Gopal Singh Visharad — the first to approach court in 1950 — seeking right to worship at the site.
* Top court held that Nirmohi Akhara’s suit is barred by limitation, not a shebait or devotee of deity Ram Lalla.
* SC lent credence to the archeological evidence on the disputed site.
* SC said that terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archeological Society of India.
* The Apex court said the Babri mosque was not built on vacant land. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.
* Court said the fact that there lied a temple beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the ASI.
* ASI had not established whether temple was demolished to build the mosque.
* Hindus consider this place as birthplace of lord Ram, even Muslims say this about disputed place: SC
* Faith of Hindus that Lord Rama was born at demolished structure is undisputed: SC
* The existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place: SC
* Title cannot be established on ground of faith, belief; they are kind of indicator for deciding dispute: SC
* Evidence suggests Hindus were in possession of outer court yard, says SC
* Extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at outer courtyard at site has been there: SC
* Evidence suggest Muslims offered Friday prayers at mosque which indicates they have not lost possession: SC
* Despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at mosque, evidence suggest that there was no abandonment: SC
* Iron railing was set up at site in 1856-1857, it suggests Hindus kept worshipping at the site: SC
* Muslims have not adduced evidence they were in exclusive possession of dispute site: SC
* Muslims were not in possession of outer courtyard of the site: SC
* UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case in Ayodhya dispute: SC
* On the contrary, Hindus established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard: SC
* SC directs allotment of alternative land — of 5 acres — to Muslims to build new mosque.
* Damage to Babri mosque was violation of law: SC
* SC asks Centre to frame scheme within 3 months and set up a trust for construction of a temple.
* SC dismisses plea of Nirmohi Akhara seeking control of entire disputed land.
* Possession of disputed 2.77 acre land will remain with central government receiver for the temple: SC
* Centre, UP govt can monitor together future actions by authorities: SC
* SC grants entire 2.77 acre of disputed land in Ayodhya to deity Ram Lalla.
* SC directs Centre and UP govt to allot 5 acre land to the Muslims at a prominent place for building mosque.
* SC asks Centre to consider granting some kind of representation to Nirmohi Akhara in setting up of trust.