The tenure of incumbent Pranab Mukherjee comes to an end on July 24. Photograph: (PTI)
Voting in today's election to determine India’s next president has begun at Parliament House in New Delhi, and in all State Legislative Assembly Secretariats.
NDA candidate and former Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind is pitted against opposition nominee and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. Ahead of the election, numbers are in favour of Kovind.
The NDA has 537,683 votes including the Shiv Sena, and the shortage is around 12,000 votes.
In a setback for the Opposition, the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) has said it will support Ram Nath Kovind. The party also skipped Sunday's Opposition meeting in New Delhi to formally introduce its presidential and vice presidential nominees, Meira Kumar and Gopal Krishna Gandhi.
But the promised support from the BJD, the TRS and the YSR Congress and likely backing from the AIADMK factions could offset the shortfall of the presidential votes by a substantial margin.
To become the president, either of the candidate needs to secure at least one vote more than 50 per cent of the total votes polled.
According to ANI, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a former constituent of United Progressive Alliance (UPA), will support Meira Kumar in the Presidential polls.
The party has seven members in Telangana Assembly and two in Maharashtra Assembly.
In the 2012 elections, Pranab Mukherjee garnered 7,13,763 votes, while Pratibha Patil secured 6,38,116 votes in the previous polls in 2007.
The President will be elected by the Electoral college comprising of all elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assemblies of States.
The counting of votes will take place on July 20 in New Delhi.
Both the candidates have held a series of meetings across states to garner support for their candidature.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday urged leaders of the opposition parties to extend their support to Meira Kumar.
"In these contests, the numbers may be against us. But the battle must be fought and fought hard. We cannot and must not let India be hostage to those who wish to impose upon it a narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision," Gandhi said.