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India's veteran politician Pranab Mukherjee elected president

By Jit Kumar (Xinhua)

09:42, July 23, 2012

NEW DELHI, July 22 (Xinhua) -- India's former Prime Minister Pranab Mukherjee was elected as the country's president on Sunday, winning more than 50 percent of the electoral college to defeat his main challenger and the former Parliament Speaker P.A. Sangma.

"I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to the people of India. I thank all the people of India. I received much more from the people of this country than I have given in my nearly five decades of public life," a jubilant Mukherjee told the media after the emphatic win.

The 77-year-old also thanked Sangma for congratulating him after his win. "I wish him well," he added.

Mukherjee will be sworn in as the country's 13th president by the Chief Justice of India on Wednesday, succeeding the incumbent head of state Pratibha Patil whose five-year term ends that day.

India's president is the ceremonial head of state who has little role to play in the country's politics and government. The president is elected by an electoral college comprising Members of Parliament and state legislators.

After the news of his win flashed across the Indian media, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ruling Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi were among the top leaders who came to his home in the national capital to greet him.

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