Itís President Pranab
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Forty-three years after he first entered the Rajya Sabha, Pranab Mukherjee today became the 14th President of the country, winning 69.3 per cent of the total 10,29,750 votes polled, in a one-sided but bitter contest.
In his first public comments after being elected, he promised to do his best "to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution". "I have received much more from the country, its political establishment and Parliament than what I have given. I will try to justify in a modest way as I can to be trustworthy."
Senior leaders started making a beeline for Mukherjee's resident at 13, Talkatora Road, on Sunday even before the results were formally announced, as it became clear that the Congress veteran was well ahead of his BJP-backed rival P A Sangma, who got only 31 per cent of the votes polled. Mukherjee will be sworn in by Chief Justice S H Kapadia on July 25 in Central Hall of Parliament.
In an election that went largely on expected lines, there were only a few departures from the script, like in Karnataka, which saw cross-voting by at least 16 MLAs in favour of the UPA candidate, leaving Mukherjee ahead of Sangma in the BJP-ruled state. It was also clear that Sangma's tribal and northeast card had totally failed. Barring home state Meghalaya, Sangma got less than 20 per cent of the votes in the other northeast states.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi with son Rahul, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and UPA partner and DMK leader T R Baalu were among the first to drop in at Mukherjee's house to congratulate him. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who had opposed Mukherjee and only reluctantly supported him later, was also among the first to call him. She accepted his invitation to be present for the swearing-in.
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