India election: Lawmakers vote for new president today


Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee didn't get any love for the budget he proposed Friday.



Indian lawmakers cast ballots today to elect a new president for the South Asian democracy.

The ruling party — United Progressive Alliance — candidate and former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, 76, is considered an almost-certain winner for the mostly ceremonial position, according to CNN. Mukherjee's opponent is opposition-backed candidate and former speaker of the Indian parliament PA Sangma, 64.

Nearly 5,000 members of parliament and assembly members cast their votes in national and state capitals today to elect India's 13th president, reported Voice of America. The results will be announced on Sunday, three days before India's first female president, Pratibha Patil, will finish her five-year tenure.

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India's president, although mostly a ceremonial post, commands the armed forces, helps create a new government if there is a hung Parliament and, in rare circumstances, sends bills back to lawmakers, according to the New York Daily News. Much of the job involves representing the country overseas and making ceremonial appearances and speeches on national holidays.

"Once (Mukherjee) knew he couldn't be prime minister, it's best to be president despite its ceremonial nature," Shekhar Gupta, editor of the Indian Express newspaper, told the Daily News. "You're remembered forever, you get your picture here and there, you're one of 50 or 100 names that are remembered."

According to CNN, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among voters who cast their ballots.