Ram Nath Kovind, a candidate backed by India's ruling coalition, won the presidential election on Thursday, tightening the governing alliance's hold over positions of power.
"Kovind has secured a clear majority," said election officer Anoop Mishra. "I duly declare him as the president of India."
Votes from 4,896 lawmakers in state assemblies and parliament were counted in parliament to elect the constitutional head, a largely ceremonial post. Kovind, 71, a low-caste Dalit politician with Hindu nationalist roots, beat Meira Kumar, also a Dalit, backed by the centrist Congress party.
Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind Ji on being elected the President of India! Best wishes for a fruitful & inspiring tenure. — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 20, 2017
Kovind got the votes of 522 Members of Parliament while Kumar bagged the votes of 225 MPs. As many 771 elected MPs were eligible to cast their ballot.
This is for the first time that India will have a president hailing from Uttar Pradesh, a state known for giving the country the most number of prime ministers, nine to date.
Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the two states that have sent three presidents each to Rashtrapati Bhavan as India’s first citizens.[arve url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTKu6E8IsHU"/]
Kovind's ascent to the highest public office is the first for a leader reared in the powerful Hindu revivalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or National Volunteers' Association, the ideological mentor of Hindu groups.
Kovind's victory caps a series of top appointments by Modi, strengthening the grip of the Hindu right on public offices, such as governors, state chief ministers and the heads of universities.
20 years ago and the present…always been a privilege to know you, President Elect. pic.twitter.com/IkhnOtYf8N— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 20, 2017
India's constitution provides a largely ceremonial role for the president, with the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues holding executive power. But the president has a key role during political crises, such as when a general election is inconclusive, by deciding which party is in the best position to form a government.