Voting begins for India’s 12th vice president


New Delhi : Voting for India’s 12th vice president got underway at parliament house Friday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh among the first to cast his ballot.

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The electoral exercise began at 10 a.m. and the prime minister arrived about 10 minutes later to put in his vote for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Hamid Ansari.

The prime minister did not speak to the press as he came out of Room 62 in parliament house where the elections are being held, but held up his hand in a victory sign.

Soon, other MPs from various parties started pouring in. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was accompanied by women colleagues like minister Renuka Chowdhury and Rajya Sabha MP Prema Cariappa.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar came in with daughter Supriya Sule, who is a Rajya Sabha MP. The DMK flock included Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi.

And Railway Minister Lalu Prasad gallantly posed with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and Bollywood actress Hema Malini.

He agreed to speak to the press as well. “Hema Malini is making a movie in which I also have a role. The name is secret,” the minister said.

The Congress-led UPA-Left combine’s candidate, former diplomat and academic Ansari is expected to win the election in which the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) Najma Heptulla and the eight party grouping United National Progressive Alliance’s (UNPA) Rasheed Masood are also in the fray.

This is the first triangular fight for the vice president’s post.

Polling will close at 5 p.m. and votes will be counted after 6 p.m. Results will be announced by Friday evening.

Rajya Sabha secretary general Yogendra Narain is the electoral officer for the election.