The returning officer for the presidential elections, VK Agnihotri, announced a little after 6.30 pm on Sunday, "Pranab Mukherjee has been duly elected to the office of President of India." Mr Mukherjee has won the election with 69.31 per cent votes; he polled 713,937 votes of the total 10,29,924 votes. His opponent Purno Sangma had 315,987 votes or 30.69 per cent of the total votes.
Mr Mukherjee waited till votes from only one state were left to be counted and he had crossed seven lakh votes, to say thank you. "I express my deep gratitude and thank people of this great country for conferring this distinction by electing me to this high post. I have received much more from the people, parties, Parliament than I have given them... I will try to justify," a beaming Mr Mukherjee said.
The returning officer for the presidential election and Rajya Sabha Secretary General V K Agnihotri will send a copy of the result and the victory certificate to the Law Ministry to enable the government initiate the process of installing the new President. A similar copy will be sent to the Election Commission.
On Wednesday morning, Mr Mukherjee will be escorted by the President's Military Secretary to Rashtrapati Bhavan. From there President Pratibha Patil and Mr Mukherjee will leave in a ceremonial cavalcade for the swearing-in ceremony. The short route will be lined with soldiers. He will take oath in the Central Hall of Parliament, a familiar haunt of over four decades for Mr Mukherjee. The Chief Justice of India will administer the oath of office.
Soon after the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Mukherjee will go to Rashtrapati Bhavan where he will be received at the forecourts by outgoing President. Mr Mukherjee will then escort Ms Patil to her temporary accommodation in Tughlak Lane where she will stay till her post-retirement home in Pune is ready.
The rigours of a long day barely show on the 76-year-old. Dapper in dark bandhgala, his wife of 55 years, Suvra, too smiling by his side, Mr Mukherjee stayed home on Sunday greeting the many visitors streaming in to congratulate him. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi visited. Speaker Meira Kumar did too. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came with his wife and brought a bouquet of lilies and roses.
Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee reportedly called Mr Mukherjee to congratulate him and confirmed that she would attend the swearing-in ceremony. Ms Banerjee had said last week that she would vote for Mr Mukherjee, but very reluctantly.
Counting for the Presidential elections began at 11 am today and celebrations began alongside. As expected Mr Mukherjee took an early lead winning 72 per cent of the MP votes, which were counted first. Sources told NDTV that Mr Mukherjee, the UPA's nominee, bagged 527 votes out of the 748 votes of MPs. His opponent and the NDA's candidate, PA Sangma, got 206 votes, according to sources. That meant 3, 73,116 votes in Mr Mukherjee's kitty.
State after big state thereafter delivered as expected in favour of Mr Mukherjee and his lead widened - Kerala, in fact, saw all its 124 legislators voting for him. BJP-ruled states like Goa, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat did give Mr Sangma more votes but it was just not enough. As Maharashtra votes were counted, Mr Mukherjee moved past the magical hallway mark of 5.25 lakh votes.
BJP-ruled Karnataka grabbed headlines as usual; Mr Mukherjee got more votes than he expected because of massive cross-voting, sources said. Mr Mukherjee got 117 votes, Mr Sangma 103. That was 53 per cent votes for Mr Mukherjee and the brand new government of Jagadish Shettar will have some explaining to do.
Defence Minister AK Antony has said the UPA will miss Mr Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram has thanked allies and friends and the BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad has congratulated him "warmly."JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav, who is also the NDA convenor, congratulated Mr Mukherjee and his family over the victory. "We supported Pranab as he is a political man. He won't depend on advisors as he knows the constitution," said Mr Yadav.
Up ahead lie tough tasks for Mr Mukherjee. There are more than 10 petitions sent by prisoners on death row to the President's office, asking for clemency. Among them, that of Afzal Guru, convicted for a terror attack on Parliament in 2001, a brazen assault in which 12 people were killed when Parliament was in session. The new President will have to decide what becomes of these mercy petitions, some of which have major political ramifications. For example, Balwant Singh Rajoana, who is in jail in Punjab for the assassination of former chief minister Beant Singh, is treated as a martyr and paid lavish tribute by the Sikh clergy.
The President is also likely to have a huge imprint on the political future of the country in 2014, when the general elections are expected to yield a hung Parliament. The President could then have a casting vote to decide who should come to power. He also has the right to dissolve a deeply-fractured Parliament, if that's what the results deliver.
Mr Mukherjee's victory today had been a given and long before the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress became the last ally to announce support for him. Apart from all the UPA allies, parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, as well as two Left parties - the CPM and the Forward Bloc - have also backed him.
Mr Mukherjee's Sunday morning was routine, his campaign manager said. He read the papers, had tea, bathed and did his pooja. Then, he had to begin meeting the deluge of visitors.
PA Sangma is not giving up even now. At a press conference he wished Mr Mukherjee much success but also described this year's Presidential elections as a "partisan and political" one. Team Sangma has said it will move court insisting that Mr Mukherjee's nomination is invalid. Team Sangma contends that Mr Mukherjee held an office of profit as the chairman of the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute on the day he filed his nomination papers. Mr Mukherjee has said he had resigned from that position much before the date of filing nomination and has furnished papers which have since been cleared by the election officer. Mr Sangma's team still alleges those papers are forged.