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Congress candidate wins India presidential vote

Associated Press Modified: July 22, 2012 at 9:30 am •  Published: July 22, 2012

NEW DELHI (AP) — The candidate from India's governing Congress party, former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, was declared winner Sunday in voting for the country's president, a largely ceremonial position.

Election official P.K. Agnihotri said Mukherjee, 76, had received more than twice as many votes as his rival in last Thursday's balloting by national and state legislators.

"I express deep gratitude to the people for electing me to this high office," Mukherjee said. He said he would try to justify the people's trust.

His rival, Purno Agitok Sangma, conceded defeat before the counting was complete Sunday. "I congratulate Mukherjee on his victory and I wish him success," he told reporters.

Mukherjee's elated supporters danced to the beat of drums and set off firecrackers outside his residence as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party chief, arrived to congratulate him. Several opposition groups also backed Mukherjee.

Mukherjee and Sangma, a former speaker of Parliament, were competing to succeed India's first female president, Pratibha Devisingh Patil. Mukherjee is to be sworn in on Wednesday.

In India, the prime minister is the head of government and the president is mainly a figurehead.

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