NEW DELHI: BJP nominee Ram Nath Kovind’s win as President-elect is an indicator of the changed political map with the saffron party and its allies picking up two-thirds of the vote.
BJP managers are not unduly perturbed by Congress’s claim that Meira Kumar won the most votes by an opposition candidate, saying the result only showed the inversion of political equations.
“Usually BJP would, as the opposition party, get less than a third of the vote in such a contest. It’s the other way around now,” said BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, Kovind’s election manager.
20 years ago and the present…always been a privilege to know you, President Elect. pic.twitter.com/IkhnOtYf8N
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 20, 2017
The support Kovind received across regions and from small parties and Independents points to BJP’s increased acceptability and augurs well for the party’s move to build a strong pan-India coalition ahead of the 2019 election, said BJP netas.
They argued that the support will help BJP expand its footprint beyond the party’s existing geographical boundaries.
Poll managers said Kovind has attracted close to around 115 votes in excess to their estimates. Other than 18 NDA parties, several regional parties including JD(U), TRS, YSR Congress, AIADMK, BJD voted for Kovind, making his win a foregone conclusion. BJP’s spirits are high also because its candidate got votes from UPA constituents as well as there is no provision of a party whip in the presidential polls in which electoral college comprises directly elected MPs and MLAs.
“More than 30 MPs in excess to our calculations voted for Kovind,” said a senior BJP leader. The advantage was somewhat lost with BJP calculating that 13 of 21 MPs who cast invalid votes were from its camp.
Maximum number of cross voting was reported from Maharashtra where reports suggest probably 13 Congress-NCP legislators voted for the NDA nominee.NCP chief Sharad Pawar had expressed his doubts about the viability of an opposition candidate even though he headed the search committee for non-NDA parties.
Of 288 legislators in Maharashtra, 287 voted. Of them, 208 legislators favoured Kovind, 77 voted for Congress nominee Meira Kumar, while two votes were declared invalid. Going by the BJP-led alliance’s strength, Kovind should have got 185 votes -122 of BJP and 63 of Shiv Sena – plus votes of other alliance partners, but he got 208 votes.
Cross-voting was reported in Gujarat, home state of PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. At least eight MLAs from Congress seem to have voted for the NDA nominee. Kovind received votes of 132 MLAs in Gujarat and the UPA nominee Meira Kumar 49. Congress has 57 MLAs in the 182-member state assembly. Cross voting in Gujarat is being attributed largely to Congress rebel leader Shankarsinh Vaghela.