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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2589

Pratibha Patil declared elected as India's 13th President

By M. Rama Rao in New Delhi

New Delhi, 22 July( India Saturday elected Pratibha Patil (72) as its 13th President in a bitterly contested election that saw some cross voting from the BJP. Bhaironsingh Shekhawat, her lone rival, accepted defeat in 'humility' and resigned as the Vice President.Pratibha Patil : "This is the victory of the principles which our Indian people uphold." Pratibha Patil : "This is the victory of the principles which our Indian people uphold."

"This is the victory of the principles which our Indian people uphold", the President elect told reporters outside her residence here in an obvious dig at the BJP led NDA which indulged in mudslinging under the garb electioneering for a cause.

Half way through the campaign the BJP camp lost whatever hopes of victory that were there but they certainly did not expect the huge drubbing the electorate had delivered to Shekhawat.

In the final tally of votes, Pratibha Patil (72) secured over 10,000 votes more than that were expected. She polled 6, 38,116 votes, which works out a whopping 65.82 per cent. Shekhawat (84) received 3, 31,306 in an electoral college of 10.98 lakh. He failed to open his account, predictably, in West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala and in Mizoram.

Patil got unexpected support from dissidents in BJP and AGP. In Gujarat, apparently four BJP anti-Modi MLAs voted for Patil as did 15 AGP lawmakers in Assam.

To his dismay, BJP ruled Gujarat, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh he did not get all the votes that are there in the kitty. In fact these three states had invalid votes in large number with the hardcore Hindutvites writing on the ballot paper slogans like 'Om' and 'Jai Sriram'.

Political analysts interpreted the invalid votes as an expression of 'revolt' in the BJP ranks.

Sonia Happy

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are among the early callers on Pratibha Patil to congratulate soon after the Returning Officer P D T Acharya declared her the winner. The counting lasted for six hours.

"I am happy and proud that for the first time after independence a woman has been chosen as the President", said Sonia Gandhi. And thanked the leaders of all UPA constituents, the Left parties and the BSP supremo Mayawati.

Prime Minister described Pratibha Patil's victory as a vote against 'politics of divisiveness' and as a vote in favour of 'unity and strengthening the foundations of our secular republic'.

The counting of votes projected trends along predictable lines with the UPA candidate supported by the Left and the BSP taking most states. Her independent rival supported by the BJP led NDA gained votes of four INLD votes in his home state of Rajasthan. Tamilnadu is another state where he got some unexpected votes – 58 from AIADMK, MDMK and probably actor Vijaykant's as they made a 'U-turn' on the Third Front decision to abstain from voting apparently fearing disqualification at a later date.

Pratibha Patil scored impressively in her home state, Maharashtra – 223 votes out of 281 votes while Shekhawat settled for just 58 votes. This was because Shiv Sena opted to remain true to its core philosophy of Maharashtra pride and did not go with its Hindutva ally, BJP.

Counting Trends

Pratibha Patil bagged 223 votes in Andhra Pradesh, while Shekhawat managed only two from BJP members. Each vote has a value of 148 in this state.

In Arunachal Pradesh, where the Congress is in power, Patil bagged 58 votes while Shekhawat got one. In Assam, Patil polled 92 votes while Shekhawat got 20. There was cross-voting, apparently by the AGP, in favour of Patil in Congress-ruled Assam, as the UPA-Left was expecting only 86 votes but got 92. Fifteen of the 24 AGP legislators voted in the poll, defying the party's decision to abstain.

In Delhi, the UPA nominee bagged 50 of the 69 votes polled, while Shekhawat got 19. Bihar where JD-U-BJP coalition is in power, gave 145 votes to Shekhawat and 89 to Patil. Two votes were found to be invalid. Congress ruled Goa opted for Pratibha giving her 25 votes and just 14 to her rival. In the BJP ruled Gujarat, Shekhawat bagged 123 votes while his opponent got 57 votes. Two votes were found invalid.

In Jharkhand, Patil bagged 49 votes while Shekhawat got 28. Two votes were found to be invalid. The value of an MLA's vote in the state is 176.

In JD-S-BJP-ruled Karnataka, Patil and Shekhawat got almost the same number of votes – 83 for her and 82 for him. The north-eastern states also voted overwhelmingly in favour of Pratibha Patil. Surprisingly, even the non-Congress coalition ruled Nagaland gave 42 votes to UPA nominee and 12 votes to Shekhawat. In Punjab, Patil got 45 votes while Shekhawat received 66. Six votes were invalid. Each vote in the state is worth 116

In Parliament, she got 442 votes against 232 of Shekhawat. In states and union territories put together, the winning candidate bagged 2,489 votes against the loser's 1,217.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee congratulated President-elect Pratibha Patil.

In a message sent along with flowers, he said, ''Please accept my heartiest felicitation on your resounding victory and my best wishes for your glorious tenure as our Rashtrapatiji.''

-Asian Tribune -

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