New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues and opposition leaders including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on Saturday cast their votes to elect the country’s next Vice President.
The voting, which began at 10 a.m, saw 761 members casting their votes out of the 785 members of the electoral college till 3 p.m. – registering a voting percentage at 96.94 per cent, Assistant Returning Officer Mukul Pandey told reporters at Parliament House.
The voting is open till 5 p.m.
The counting will be held in the evening and the results announced later on Saturday.
NDA candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu is contesting against Opposition nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Naidu, who is also a member of Rajya Sabha, left his house around 9.30 a.m. and voted at around 10 a.m. He was accompanied by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and other BJP leaders.
Besides BJP veteran L.K. Advani, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also cast their votes.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi exchanged greetings with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders when he reached the voting centre.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi was accompanied by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, party leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and other opposition leaders.
Nominated Rajya Sabha member and actress Rekha also voted. She was seen exchanging greetings with SP leader Dimple Yadav, the wife of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Naidu seems to be in a comfortable position as the NDA has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and has the support of some political parties from the south.
Naidu expressed confidence on Saturday that majority parties will vote for him.
The Lok Sabha currently has 545 members and the Rajya Sabha 244. The Lok Sabha has two vacancies, while the Rajya Sabha has one vacancy.
According to BJP officials, apart from the NDA’s 81 Rajya Sabha members and 338 Lok Sabha members, members of both Houses — of the AIADMK (50), YSR Congress (10) and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (14) will also vote in favour of Naidu.
With around support of 493 members, Naidu is all set to cross the magic figure of 394. However, BJP leaders are hopeful of crossing the 500 mark.
Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a former West Bengal Governor and a diplomat, has support of the Congress, the Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party, DMK, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and National Conference.
Janata Dal-United, which is now a part of NDA, had announced support for Gandhi and is likely to vote in his favour.