Over 99 per cent voting was witnessed on Monday in the election to the office of the 14th President of India, even as the counting of votes will take place on 20 July.
"The voting was close to 99 per cent. I think this would perhaps be the highest ever percentage," the Lok Sabha Secretary General and Returning Officer for the presidential poll, Anoop Mishra, told a press conference in the evening after completion of the polling.
Evidently, the ruling BJP-led NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind ~ who is pitted against the Congress-led Opposition's joint nominee Meira Kumar ~ is set to win this election by a huge margin, given the legion of parties backing him.
Both the 71-year-old Kovind, the former Bihar Governor, and Kumar, the 72-year-old ex-Lok Sabha Speaker, are Dalit leaders.
In the Parliament House polling station, 99 per cent voting was recorded, Mishra said.
Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Puducherry recorded 100 per cent polling.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first voter to cast his ballot in the Parliament House polling station, Mishra said.
An Election Commission official separately said : "Out of a total of 771 MPs entitled to vote (4 vacant and 1 disqualified), 768 cast their votes i.e. 99.61%. And, out of a total of 4109 MLAs entitled to vote (10 vacant and 1 disqualified), 4083 cast their votes i.e. 99.37%."
Of the 717 MPs, who were supposed to vote in New Delhi, 714 MPs cast their ballots here.
Fifty-four MPs ~ including the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his Goa counterpart Manohar Parrikar, and Union Minister Uma Bharti ~ had sought permission to cast their ballots in state capitals.
The BJP president Amit Shah, an MLA from Gujarat, had sought permission to cast his vote in the national capital.
Trinamool Congress MPs cast their votes in Kolkata.
Mishra said barring Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Tripura, the polling figures was received from all other states till this evening.
The BJP camp exuded confidence that Kovind will easily win the election with a "comfortable" margin. His candidature was said to have been supported by about 40 parties, including several non-NDA regional parties such as the JD-U, BJD, TRS, YSR Congress, and AIADMK factions.
Seventeen Opposition parties ~ including the Congress, Left and Trinamul ~ have backed Kumar's candidature. Their bid was however dealt a blow when the Nitish Kumar-led JD-U, despite being an ally of the Congress and RJD in the Bihar coalition government, pledged its support to Kovind's nomination.
The Opposition camp has sought to project the presidential contest as a "battle of ideologies".
The five-year tenure of the incumbent 13th President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, will come to an end on 24 July.
The counting of votes will take place on 20 July in New Delhi where all the ballot boxes will be brought from all state capitals.
The presidential poll's electoral college comprises of elected Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members ~ 543 and 233 respectively ~ and elected members of all state assemblies ~ altogether numbering 4896. The polling is carried out through secret ballot.
The value of an MLA's vote depends on the population of her state. The value of an MLA's vote in Sikkim, for instance, is 7 while it is 208 in UP. The value of an MP's vote, however, remains the same at 708.