Patil on victory spree, Shekhawat draws zero in three states


New Delhi : Ruling alliance candidate Pratibha Patil was set for a landslide victory in the presidential poll after counting of votes from nearly half the states till Saturday afternoon, while her rival Bhairon Singh Shekhawat failed to get votes from three states.

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A visibly jubilant Patil, who has been haunted by accusations of fraud and corruption by the opposition, told reporters here: "I am happy I will be elected. I am looking forward to my stint as president."

When the counting of votes in 14 states was completed, Patil had won 233,884 votes leaving Vice President Shekhawat, an independent candidate backed by the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), with 156,186 votes.

The legislators in Kerala, Mizoram and Tripura voted only for Patil as Shekhawat drew a blank in both the states. It was a sweep for Patil in her home state Maharashtra, where she won the support of 223 MLAs leaving 58 for Shekhawat.

It was a similar story in Haryana with her getting 74 to Shekhawat's 6, Himachal Pradesh (47-20), Manipur (55-5), Meghalaya (49-6) Andhra Pradesh (223-2), Arunachal Pradesh (58-1), Assam (92-20, four votes were invalid), Jharkhand (49-28) Delhi (50-19), Goa (25-14), Nagaland (40-12), Sikkim (31-1) and Tamil Nadu (171-59).

In Karnataka it was a close fight as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s ruling ally Janata Dal-Secular abstained from voting. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate got 83 and her rival, 82.

Shekhawat got more votes in NDA-ruled states. In Bihar he got 145 to Patil's 89, in Chhattisgarh (51-37), Gujarat (123-57), Madhya Pradesh (163-56), Punjab (66-45), Orissa (100-46) and Rajasthan (134-63). The vice president belongs to Rajasthan.

The votes of MPs will be taken up later in the day.

The electoral college of MPs and MLAs constitute 1.09 million votes. While an MP's vote is counted as 706, an MLA's vote value is calculated on the basis of the population of the respective states.

Once elected, Patil will be the country's 13th president and the first woman head of the state.

According to early information, Patil has won more votes than her Congress party expected. She is supported by the UPA, Left and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The counting began at 11 a.m. in Room No. 62 of the parliament building where 692 MPs registered their votes Thursday.

The ballot boxes from the 30 assembly houses across the country have been brought to the national capital for counting. According to parliament sources, the Election Commission is doing the counting according to the alphabetical order of the states.

While Patil is expected to get more than 600,000 votes from the electoral college, Shekhawat may get around 300,000.

The new president, to succeed A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will be sworn in on July 25.