New president elected in India | News | DW | 22.07.2012
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New president elected in India

India has a new president: Pranab Mukherjee, the candidate of the ruling Congress party. He is to take over from India's first woman in the post.

Mukherjee, who resigned as finance minister to stand as a presidential candidate, won more than half of the electoral college votes, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

The veteran 76-year-old politician of the Indian National Congress Party comfortably beat his rival candidate, Purno Agitok Sangma, 64, a former parliamentary speaker backed by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

The victory will be a welcome one to the Congress party, which has been hit by a series of graft scandals and is struggling to revive India's slowing economy.

India's parliament and state legislative assemblies - altogether 4,896 lawmakers - cast their votes late last week to elect the nation's 13th president.

The Indian president has a largely ceremonial role, with the prime minister holding all executive powers. However, the president can play an important part if elections produce hung parliaments.

Mukherjee is to take over from Pratibha Patil, 77, India's first woman president, who completes her five-year- term on July 25. He is to be formally sworn in on Wednesday.

Born in a West Bengal village, Mukherjee worked as a teacher and journalist before entering parliament in 1969.

He is a staunch supporter of "inclusive growth:" the idea that India's many poor people should share in the country's rapid development.

tj/pfd (dpa, AFP)