India to hold presidential election in July

image captionReports say Mr Mukherjee is the key contender

Elections for India's 13th president will be held on 19 July, the country's electoral authorities have announced.

Presidential candidates have a deadline of 30 June by which to file their nominations, and the results will be announced on 22 July.

Reports say that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is the leading candidate to become the new president.

The winner will replace Pratibha Patil, the first woman to hold India's highest constitutional post.

Indian presidents are elected by an electoral college comprising MPs from the parliament's two houses and lawmakers from state legislatures.

Reports suggest that the 77-year-old Mr Mukherjee, a veteran politician from the ruling Congress party, appears to be the front runner to become the new head of state with support from the party's key allies.

The presidency is largely a ceremonial post but with a fragmented electorate often throwing up precariously placed coalition governments, a lot depends on a president's judgement and impartiality.

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