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President Pratibha Patil

July 21, 2007

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.

Image: Patil flanked by Sonia Gandhi (left) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
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