Prez poll to see direct contest between Ramnath Kovind, Meira Kumar

Officials of the Election Commission of India oversee preparations at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Saturday ahead of the Presidential election. DH

The vote, which will go on until 5 pm today, coincides with the start of the monsoon session of parliament.

The Prime Minister said he will be delighted to work with Kovind.

"Kovind ji will win (the election) with a respectable and comfortable margin", Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters ahead of the polling. MP AU Singh Deo said Kovind has assured to work impartially, while BJD vice-president and minister SN Patro said the presidential candidate has "assured to protect interest of Orissa". This would bring a bad name not only to the party but also to the State in its infancy.

The new president - India's 14th - will take over from Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran Congress politician, who completes his five-year term on July 24. Kovind would also be a first leader from the RSS camp occupying the top office of the President.

Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party leader, acknowledged on Sunday that the odds were stacked against the opposition's candidate. "The president should be a person pursuing an ideology under which everybody should be equal for him". Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh is supporting NDA's Candidate while Akhilesh Yadav's faction is supporting Meira Kumar.

Trinamool Congress MPs cast their votes in Kolkata. They said that they believe in democracy and that's why they are contesting.

The value each MLA's vote in Telangana is 132.

He also said that except for Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Tripura, data has been received from all other states which indicates that the voting was "close to 100 per cent".

Both Kovind and Kumar are from Dalit (formerly untouchable) caste. "Probably for the first time, no party made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate".

"Winning or losing (a poll) is a different issue".

According to ANI, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a former constituent of United Progressive Alliance (UPA), will support Meira Kumar in the Presidential polls.

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