The country will have a new Vice-President today. If all goes to plan for the ruling UPA, it won't really be a new Vice-President; its nominee Hamid Ansari is all set to get a rare second term. Voting has ended and results will be declared this evening at 7.
Contesting against Mr Ansari is the NDA's Jaswant Singh, a BJP leader and former Union Minister. A total of 788 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs were eligible to vote today and Mr Ansari's poll managers say they expect him to get at least 500 of those. He would need 396 to be the country's 14th Vice-President, but that number has been reduced by abstentions - 34 MPs have abstained, 21 of the Biju Janata Dal and two of the RSP and 11 of the Telugu Desam Party - bringing down the halfway mark to 377.
The arithmetic suggests that the Congress-led UPA is not being ambitious. All partners in the ruling alliance are on board to support Mr Ansari's candidacy. Parties like Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and Lalu Yadav's RJP have readily supported him too. As have two Left parties. If everyone votes as expected, Mr Ansari could get 503 votes.
Jaswant Singh, who is also supported by the AIADMK, is expected to get about 234 votes. But he will not let those calculations defeat him yet. He said as voting began this morning, "We know how many Kauravas were there and how many Pandavas were there and who won ultimately."
Attendance was high today. By 1 pm, about 600 MPs had already voted. By 5 pm, end of voting, there were reports that almost all MPs had turned up to go behind pale peach curtains in a room in Parliament House cast their secret ballot. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi voted early. Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh could not vote. He is critically ill.
New MP and actor Rekha voted as did Sachin Tendullkar, dapper in a pin-striped shirt.