Seventy-six-year-old Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, UPA nominee for President, if elected, will be the third person after Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Giani Zail Singh, to directly occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan from the Union Cabinet.

Most of the former Presidents such as Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain, Varahagiri Venkata Giri, R. Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma and K.R. Narayanan held the post of Vice-President before being elevated as President.

While Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, who was the President from August 24, 1974 till his death on February 11, 1977, was the Food Minister in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet, Giani Zail Singh was the Home Minister in her Cabinet before being elected as President on July 25, 1982 .

Mr. Mukherjee will be the 13 person to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan. Till now, only Rajendra Prasad, lawyer, freedom fighter and head of the Constituent Assembly, holds the record of getting elected to the post twice consecutively. He was in office from January 26, 1950 to May 13, 1962.

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was the only one to get elected unopposed to the post. He held the office from July 25, 1977 to July 25, 1982. He was the Lok Sabha Speaker before his election.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (July 25, 2002 to July 25, 2007) was the Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister before he entered Rasthrapati Bhavan.

Present President Pratibha Devisingh Patil (since July 25, 2007) was the Governor of Rajasthan before assuming office. .

Not bound by party whips

Meanwhile, sources in the Election Commission said that since the Presidential poll is being held in a secret ballot, the provisions of the anti-defection law would not be applicable in the election. Members of the Electoral College (MPs and MLAs) can vote according to their conscience and are not bound by any party whips, the sources said.

There is a provision for a legislator, who is in jail under preventive detention, to vote through postal ballot. However, there is no provision for proxy voting and a disabled/illiterate elector can vote only with the help of the presiding officer and cannot take the help of any companion.

During polling, it is compulsory for an elector to record his first preference. Marking other preferences is optional, the Commission said. A vote could be rejected by the Returning Officer if the figure 1 is not marked; or if the figure 1 is marked against the name of more than one candidate. The vote can also be rejected if the first preference is marked in a manner which renders it doubtful as to which candidate it is intended to apply; or if the figure 1 and some other figure is marked against the name of the candidate; or any mark is made by which the elector may be identified.

A ballot paper will be rejected if the preference is marked in words like one, two, three or first preference, second preference, third preference, etc instead of figures . A postal ballot may be rejected if the signature of the elector on the declaration and the attestation form received with the ballot paper is not duly attested by the authority specified in such form (who is normally the officer-in-charge of the jail or the place of detention).

EC sources said unlike other elections to the Assembly or the Lok Sabha, a contestant for the presidential poll need not file any affidavit – relating to assets or pending criminal cases.

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