NEW DELHI: Indian lawmakers voted Monday to pick the country’s president, who is certain to come from the lowest Dalit caste, in an election seen as strengthening Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s grip on power.
Some 4,900 legislators nationwide voted in what Modi termed a “historic” election to choose the titular head of state.
Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has nominated Ram Nath Kovind, a 71-year-old former lawyer from the Dalit community.
His main rival is Meira Kumar, the nominee of the Congress-led opposition and also a Dalit.
The result will be announced Thursday but Kovind’s victory is almost certain since the BJP says it has the electoral college numbers needed to push its candidate through.
Members of both houses of the federal parliament and state assemblies across the country can take part in the vote.
“The presidential poll this time is historic. Probably for the first time no party has made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate,” Modi wrote on Twitter on the eve of the poll.
“Every political party has kept in mind the dignity of this election.”
It is also historic as it will be the first time the BJP has organised the numerical strength to push through its candidate.
India’s prime minister wields executive power, but the president can send back some parliamentary bills for reconsideration and also plays a guiding role in the process of forming governments.