Presidential Election: Odisha CM, MLAs cast votes

LK Advani Ram Nath Kovind and Narendra Modi

Significantly, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (U), will also be supporting Kovind, going against its Bihar "grand alliance" partners, the Congress and Lalu Prasad's RJD.

Besides the members of parliament, which includes 233 from the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and 543 from the Lok Sabha (lower house), elected members of legislative assemblies in 29 states and seven union territories are empowered to cast their votes. While two observers will be present in Parliament House, one each will be deployed at the Assemblies.

Earlier, Mamata asked her party MPs to cast their votes in Kolkata, fearing of cross-voting during the Presidential election. Kovind, formerly the governor of Bihar, appears to have the numbers on his side - nearly 40 parties, including non-NDA parties, have pledged their support for him.

The Prime Minister said he will be delighted to work with Kovind.

He termed it "probably the highest percentage of votes polled ever (in Presidential poll)" and attributed it to enthusiasm among the electors. All these MLAs, who met Kovind during his recent visit to the Assam capital Guwahati, are likely to join the BJP any day after July 22. They along with Bharti are voters as MPs. Election for the next President of India begins today: NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind is pitted against Opposition nominee Meira Kumar. All the ballot boxes will be brought to Delhi after the election and the counting will happen on 20th of this month. A candidate needs 50% of the vote, or 5,49,452 votes, to win. They're short by around 12,000 votes.

Votes from the Dalits and right-wing Hindu nationalist helped Modi secure a sweeping victory in 2014, as well as pick up several key states including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. At the time of her nomination, Meira had said, "This election is a fight of ideology". But the battle must be fought and fought hard. Attacking the NDA-led government, she said that the country can not be hostage to those "who wish to impose upon it a narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision".