New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Pranab Mukherjee will be India's 13th president. The former finance minister Sunday comfortably crossed the halfway mark with 558,000 votes to secure his journey to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Soon after he was declared president-elect, the 76-year-old Mukherjee said he was very happy.
His rival, former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, was way behind with 239,966 votes as counting continued, Mukherjee's polling agent Pravin H. Parikh told IANS.
He has crossed the halfway mark. He is the president-elect, Parikh said.
Though the result was clear, votes would continue to be counted till all the ballot boxes were opened.
Speaking to a Bengali news channel Mukherjee thanked everybody for their love and support. I thank all the people of my country.
In the last one month I have covered the entire country. And with the emotions and feelings that I have sensed in the common people revolving round this presidential election, it felt like it was not a presidential election but a general election.
I am very happy, and I will strive to live up to the expectations and faith that people have bestowed on me, Mukherjee said in his first comments.
Celebrations also broke out outside his Talkotra Road residence in the national capital.
Home Minister P.Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony met the seasoned politician at his residence to convey their congratulations after Mukherjee emerged the clear winner.
He will make a very, very good president, Antony said, while a beaming Chidambaram said it was an emphatic victory.
Mukherjee, who was most recently finance minister, is one of India's most experienced politicians. He was widely considered the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's most trusted and able strategists.
His candidature was backed not just by members of the UPA but also the Janata Dal-United and the Shiv Sena, which broke ranks with the opposition NDA. Besides, the CPI-M, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party were among those who supported him.
I congratulate Pranab Mukherjee for this historic win. He will garner more than 70 percent of the votes. I also thank people who supported him, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy said.