Elections to choose India’s 15th president will be held today – a race between NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu and opposition Yashwant Sinha. However, the contest is seen as all but over, counting down parties that have expressed their support for Ms. Murmu.
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The election will take place on the first day of Parliament’s monsoon session. Droupadi Murmu, 64, was a strong candidate for the country’s highest office before the 2017 presidential election, until then Governor Ram Nath Kovind of Bihar, a Dalit, was cited as the government’s pick for the position.
The NDA choice of Ms. Murmu – an Odisha tribal woman and a former governor of Jharkhand – is seen as a calculated move, supported not only by Jharkhand’s reigning Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, but also by Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, who is seen as a witch sitter.
Ms Murmu has also been assured of support from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has rarely been on the same page as ally BJP lately.
Both factions of the Shiv Sena — whose split and subsequent collapse of the Maharashtra government dominated headlines for weeks — are also expected to support Ms Murmu.
While the Eknath Shinde faction, allied with the BJP, supported the NDA candidate, the faction led by Uddhav Thackeray also supports her.
The Thackeray faction, which supported opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, decided to switch after 16 MPs met Uddhav Thackeray and suggested voting for Ms Murmu, a tribal woman. Mr Sinha has alleged that Mr Thackeray has been twisted to support Ms Murmu.
The opposition settled on Mr Sinha – a former Union minister in the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who later joined the Trinamool Congress – after three proposed candidates said no.
The head of the National Congress, Sharad Pawar, former governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and former prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, had all refused for different reasons.
The President is elected by the members of the Electoral College, made up of elected members from both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of all states, as well as the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
No party whip can be issued for the vote and the MPs and MLAs can vote whenever they want. The votes will be counted on July 21 and the new president will be sworn in on July 25, according to the schedule announced by the election commission.