Voting begins to elect next vice president; Modi, Manmohan Singh and other leaders cast votes

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Voting began in Parliament on Saturday to elect the next vice president of India.

The voting will end at 5 pm and the ballots will be counted immediately after with results likely to be declared late in the evening.

The Opposition has fielded Congress leader Margaret Alva, while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s pick is former West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which was at loggerheads with Dhankhar when he was the state governor, has said it will abstain from voting in the election.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to cast his vote on Saturday. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and BJP chief JP Nadda arrived together to cast their votes, reported PTI.

Home Minister Amit Shah and Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also voted.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in a wheelchair for the elections. Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Minister of State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh, BJP chief whip Rakesh Singh and Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party’s Raghu Rama Krishna Raju also voted.

From Opposition parties, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Dayanidhi Maran and Tiruchi Siva also cast their votes, reported The Times of India.

The electoral college for picking the vice president comprises Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs. Parliament’s current strength is 780. Eight seats in the Upper House are currently vacant and the Trinamool Congress has 36 MPs. This means that 744 MPs are expected to vote.

Dhankhar is being seen as the front runner of the elections as the National Democratic Alliance has 441 MPs, including 394 of the BJP. The alliance also has the support of five nominated members, easily pushing Dhankhar past the majority mark of 390.

The term of the current Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu ends on August 10.

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