The voting to choose the 14th President of India just concluded and going by the trends NDA candidate and BJP man Ram Nath Kovind looks to be a shoo-in for the post. The counting is slated for July 20.
The electoral fight on Monday, July 17, was expected to be a tough one, but cross-voting and a few other factors are believed to have tilted the scales in favour of Kovind against Congress candidate and former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.
Both Kovind and Kumar are Dalits, meaning whoever wins, India is getting a Dalit President. However, this is not the first time a Dalit will be elected President: KR Narayanan was the first. He served from 1997 to 2002.
Cross-voting was expected, primarily because this is a secret-ballot voting, and no whip can be issued by parties to their members to vote for a specific candidate.
And that is exactly something that some Trinamool Congress leaders from Tripura had threatened to do. At least six of them had "decided not to cast votes in favour of Congress-led Opposition-backed presidential candidate Meira Kumar since she is also supported by the CPI-M," Tripura TMC president Ashish Saha had said.
And he walked the talk. After voting on Monday, Saha said: "By voting for Ram Nath Kovind, we have registered our protest against the crimes of the CPI-M, the Congress and the TMC."
Some surveys had said Kovind will secure 70 percent of the votes.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former Union minister Praful Patel seemed to bolster the prevailing belief when he said he was quite sure Kovind would win the election. The NCP, it may be noted, is actually supporting Kovind's rival Kumar.
Patel said: "All MPs don't necessarily vote only according to conscience, they also vote according to party lines and party lines are divided somewhat on ideology, principles and political positioning. So, I don't read too much into any other statement, except the fact that this is a clear case of the NDA scoring big in terms of the numbers."
Given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP appear almost invincible when it comes to elections — the only big poll the saffron party has lost this year was for the Punjab Assembly — some political rivals may see supporting Kovind as a way to ingratiate itself with the party.