Pranab Mukherjee is India’s next president

Pranab Mukherjee will be India’s 13th president, officials announced Sunday, as the former finance minister comfortably crossed the halfway mark with 558,000 votes to secure his journey to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

His rival, former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, was way behind with 239,966 votes as counting continued, Mukherjee’s polling agent Pravin H. Parikh told IANS. “He has crossed the halfway mark. He is the president-elect,” Parikh said.

Though the result was clear, votes would continue to be counted till all the ballot boxes were opened.

Mukherjee, 76, who was most recently finance minister, is one of India’s most experienced politicians. He was widely considered the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s most trusted and able strategists.

His candidature was backed not just by members of the UPA but also the Janata Dal-United and the Shiv Sena, which broke ranks with the opposition NDA. Besides, the CPI-M, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party were among those who supported him.

“I congratulate Pranab Mukherjee for this historic win. He will garner more than 70 percent of the votes. I also thank people who supported him,” union minister V. Narayanasamy said. (IANS)