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Pratibha Patil is India's 13th President

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July 21, 2007 09:33 IST
Last Updated: July 21, 2007 18:22 IST

United Progressive Alliance-Left nominee Pratibha Patil has been elected as the 13th President of India.

Pratibha on Saturday won the Presidential election by a huge 3 lakh margin defeating National Democratic Alliance-backed independent candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to become the first woman head of state in a bitterly-contested poll that saw some cross-voting from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In the final count, Pratibha got a vote value of 6,38,116 while Shekhawat secured 3,31,306 in an electoral college of 10.98 lakh.

The winner got 65.82 per cent of the valid votes, Lok Sabha Secretary General and Returning Officer P D T Achary said at the end of counting of votes that lasted for over six hours declaring Pratibha elected.

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.

Dashing all hopes of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance for a conscience vote in favour of Shekhawat, the 72-year old former governor of Rajasthan significantly picked up votes of the value of over 10,000 more than expected helped by cross-voting in BJP-ruled Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

In the other saffron-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh, Shekhawat did not poll even the expected votes with 11 declared invalid because of writings like 'Om' and 'Jai Shri Ram', apparently indicating rebellion in the BJP voters.

A beaming Pratibha thanked the people for her success, which she said was a "victory of the principles which our Indian people uphold."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi drove to her residence shortly after her official announcement to greet her on her victory.

Sonia said she was happy and proud that for the first time after independence a woman has been chosen as the head of state. She thanked the leaders of the UPA constituents and other allies, including Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.

Dr Singh said Pratibha's election was a vote against "politics of divisiveness" and in favour of unity and strengthening the foundations of our secular republic.

The counting of votes was almost on predictable lines with Pratibha taking most of the states except in Haryana where two of her supporting legislators did not vote and in Jammu and Kashmir [Images], she appeared to have dropped some votes.

Pratibha got unexpected support from dissidents in the rival camps in BJP and Asom Gana Parishad. In Gujarat, apparently four BJP anti-Modi MLAs voted for Pratibha as did 15 AGP legislators in Assam.

Shekhawat failed to open his account in the combined Marxist-Congress bastion of Kerala [Images], West Bengal and Tripura. In Mizoram too he scored a duck.

However, in his home state of Rajasthan, Shekhawat appeared to have got the votes of four Indian National Lok Dal MLAs who defied their party's decision to abstain.

The other state where he got far more than expected votes was Tamil Nadu with 58 votes from All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and probably actor Vijaykant.

Pratibha scored impressively in Maharashtra where Shiv Sena broke ranks with BJP and supported her.

She got 223 of the 281 votes polled while Shekhawat got 58.

The electoral college consisted 4,472 votes. Of this, 4,394 were the valid votes with a value of 9,69,422.

In the proportional representation system of voting, while MPs have a uniform value of 708 for each vote, the value of an MLA's vote differs from state to state with UP accounting for a maximum value of 208 whereas Sikkim accounts for the lowest value of seven for each vote.

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