Skip to main content

Indian lawmakers cast votes for president

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Thu July 19, 2012
Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee, pictured here on June 28, 2012, is considered the almost-certain winner.
Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee, pictured here on June 28, 2012, is considered the almost-certain winner.
  • Results from the vote by federal and state lawmakers in India are expected Sunday
  • The presidency is a largely ceremonial post, but does have some power
  • Pranab Mukherjee of the ruling United Party Alliance is expected to win election

New Delhi (CNN) -- Indian lawmakers cast ballots Thursday to elect a new president for the South Asian democracy, with the ruling party's candidate considered the almost-certain winner.

That candidate, Pranab Mukherjee, is a veteran politician and a former finance minister. Mukherjee's rival is opposition-backed candidate P.A. Sangma, a former speaker of the Indian parliament.

Indian presidents are elected through an electoral college made up of more than 4,800 federal and state lawmakers. The result from Thursday's vote are expected to be announced Sunday.

Blog: What happened to 'Incredible India'?

In India, the president is head of state while the prime minister heads the government.

Still, the Indian presidents, in their largely ceremonial position, hold considerable power as the supreme commander of the country's armed forces and custodian of the national constitution, political commentator K.G. Suresh explained.

The new president could play a key role in deciding who forms the next government in case the next general elections, due in 2014, result in a split parliament, analysts say.

"Now we have a coalition era. We do not know in 2014, when the parliament election takes place, which party would be able to get a clear majority," Suresh said. "If it doesn't happen, the president of India has to then take a call as to whom to invite (to form the government) within the parameters of the constitution of India."

Prime minister Manmohan Singh was among voters who cast their ballots Thursday.

The new president will replace Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the first woman to hold the post.

Mukherjee was named the presidential candidate by the ruling United Progressive Alliance headed by Sonia Gandhi, who is also the chief of India's Congress Party.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.