HT This Day: August 21, 1969 - Giri back in Rashtrapati Bhavan

Published on Aug 17, 2022 04:37 PM IST

In the most sensational Presidential contest Republican India has yet witnessed, Mr Varahagiri Venkata Giri was today declared elected fourth President of India, defeating Mr N. Sanjiva Reddy.

HT This Day: August 21, 1969 - Giri back in Rashtrapati Bhavan
HT This Day: August 21, 1969 - Giri back in Rashtrapati Bhavan
By, New Delhi

In the most sensational Presidential contest Republican India has yet witnessed, Mr Varahagiri Venkata Giri was today declared elected fourth President of India, defeating Mr N. Sanjiva Reddy.

On Sunday, August 24, he will return to Rashtrapati Bhavan from which he had walked out after resigning the office of acting President when he decided to contest the election.

Mr Giri was declared elected at 10-32 p.m. after a suspense-packed two hours when the returning officer had to count the second preference votes.

The final voting tally was: Mr Giri 4,20,077 and Mr Sanjiva Reddy 4,05,427. Neither had, on the first count, the required number of 50 per cent plus one votes. When all the ballot boxes of the State Assemblies and of Parliament had been counted, Mr Giri was leading the official Congress candidate by 87,967 votes. (Mr Giri 4,01,515, Mr Reddy 3,13,548 and Mr C. D. Deshmukh 1,12,769).

In the second count which ended shortly after 10-15 p.m. Mr Giri made up the small deficit to romp home the winner by 14,650 votes, leaving a large field of contenders way behind.

When the formalities were concluded, the following official announcement was made: “In pursuance of the provision contained in Section 11 of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act, 1952, Section 31 of 1952, read with Rule 32 of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Rules of India, 1952, I, S. L. Shakdher, Returning Officer of the Presidential Elections, hereby declare Shri V. V. Giri, Thyagaraja Nagar, Madras 17, duly elected to office of the President of India.”

When the first preference votes from members of Parliament were counted, it became clear that there had been substantial defections from the Congress members in favour of Mr Giri. Mr Giri had 359 ballots of the value of 206,784 votes, whereas Mr Sanjiva Reddy had only 268 ballots with a value of 154,368 votes and Mr Deshmukh 101 ballots of the value of 58,176 votes.

Mr Giri had looked a winner when the Assembly votes from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar showed that he had many more backers in these States than his most optimistic calculations could have anticipated.

In view of the fact that some of the Right opposition parties might have given their first preference votes to Mr Reddy, it is possible that the defecting MPs from the Congress party might number more than previous forecasts had indicated.

It was for the first time in Indian Presidential elections that a second count was necessitated; it was also the first time that the official Congress candidate was defeated.

Mr Giri, who succeeds Dr Zakir Husain, was Vice-President of India elected on the Congress ticket. The choice of a Congress candidate for the highest office in the land was shrouded in some mystery. various leaders putting forth divergent views on the manner in which Mr Sanjiva Reddy was selected at Bangalore.

The Prime Minister and two of her Cabinet colleagues during the campaign asked for a free vote and this demand has riven the Congress party virtually into two.

Mr Giri’s success was in doubt until the closing stages of the counting. His first preference lead could prove of no avail if Mr Reddy could have collected a I good majority of the second preference votes.

In all the four previous Presidential elections - in 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967-the Congress nominee had won on the first preference votes.

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