New Delhi, July 22 (IBNS): United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi besides Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are among the top Congress stalwarts who visited the residence of Pranab Mukherjee after he crossed the halfway mark in garnering votes and became the President elect of India on Sunday.
TV footage captured a beaming Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee and his wife Suvra Mukherjee at the residence of Pranab Mukherjee.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also congratulated President elect Pranab Mukherjee on his win.
He was seen visiting the President elect at his residence.
Mukherjee himself said he was overwhelmed by the response of the people.
"I express my gratitude. I would like to thank the people of this country for conferring this distinction by electing me to the high office," said Mukherjee.
He said he got overwhelming support and enthusiasm and warmth of ordinary people was remarkable.
"I do not know what I have done today. But this much I can say that I have received much more from the people of this great country, form its political establishment, from Parliament, from all sections in my nearly five decades of public life.
"I received much more than I have given them," he said.
He said he would protect and preserve and defend the Constitution of the country.
"I also also like to reciprocate the congratulation which Mr Purno Sangma has conveyed," he said.
Though counting continued till evening, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee crossed the halfway mark in garnering votes and became the President elect officially after leading by a huge margin over his rival PA Sangma on Sunday.
Pranab Mukherjee will be sworn in as the 13th President of India on July 25 around 11-30 by the Chief Justice of India.
While celebrations continued in his village in West Bengal and in New Delhi with people exchanging sweets and bursting crackers, the announcement is likely to be made after the counting is over.
In his village in Birbhum, beating of drums, processions and bursting of crackers were part of the celebrations. People exchanged sweets as they distributed the traditional rosgollas.
There were happy tears in the eyes of his elder sister Annapoorna Devi.
At around 3-30 pm, the total value of votes Pranab Mukherjee polled was 4,64,391, far ahead of his rival PA Sangma at 1,95,109.
Earlier reports said, after the MP votes were counted he polled 748 votes as against 527 of PA Sangma. About 15 MP votes are invalid.
Interestingly, in the BJP ruled Karnataka state, Pranab Mukherjee has got 53% of the votes owing to cross voting.
Mukherjee got 117 votes where as against 103 by Sangma. Three votes were invalid.
Pranab Mukherjee would be the first Bengali President of India.
On July 19, more than 4000 lawmakers cast their ballots in the Parliament and in state assemblies to elect the next President.
Mukherjee also got the support of political parties which are allies or supporters of UPA but are bitter rivals themselves.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati, Samajwadi Party (SP) led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar, all supported Pranab Mukherjee.
Sangma, who resigned from his party the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to contest the poll, have received the support of BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
However, NDA ally Janata Dal (United) supported Pranab Mukherjee. So did Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
Though largely ceremonial, the President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India. He or she is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of India.
India's past presidents, including acting presidents, in chronological order were Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain, Varahagiri Venkata Giri, Muhammad Hidayatullah (Acting President), Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Basappa Danappa Jatti (Acting), Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Giani Zail Singh, Ramaswamy Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Kocheril Raman Narayanan, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Devisingh Patil.