How do we elect the President of India?


By: Wahengbam Rorrkychand

The time has come to elect the 14th President of the Republic of India, who is the Head of state of India and the Commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. The presidential election of India will be held on 17 July 2017, and counting will be done on 20 July 2017, five days before the incumbent President, Pranab Mukherjee’s term expires.

As the Election Commission of India has notified the timeline for the upcoming presidential election, both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and opposition have filed their candidates. Ram Nath Kovind, the Governor of Bihar and Meira Kumar, the former Speaker of Lok Sabha were announced as candidates of NDA and Opposition respectively. BJP president Amit Shah announced Kovind’s candidature on 19 June 2017 and filed nomination on 23 June 2017. Meira Kumar was announced as the Indian National Congress (INC)-lead opposition’s candidate for the post of President of India on 22 June 2017. Both the candidates as well as leaders of ruling parties and oppositions are campaigning across the country seeking votes from the state legislatures and parliamentarians.

The people of the Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic India do not elect its own president directly. The president of this most populous representative democracy in the world is elected by an electoral college consisting elected members of state assembly houses (MLA) and both the houses of parliament (Rajya Sabha and Loksabha) not the nominated MP like actress Rekha, who is currently a Rajya Sabha MP, is not allowed to vote in the presidential election.

The Article 55 in the Constitution of India ensures uniformity in the scale of representation of the different States at the election of the President. For the purpose of securing such uniformity among the States inter se as well as parity between the States as a whole and the Union, the number of votes which each elected member of Parliament and Legislative Assembly of each State is entitled to cast at such election shall be determined in the following manner:

(a) every elected member of the Legislative Assembly of a State shall have as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the State by the total number of the elected members of the Assembly;

(b) if, after taking the said multiples of one thousand, the remainder is not less than five hundred, then the vote of each member referred to in sub clause (a) shall be further increased by one;

(c) each elected member of either House of Parliament shall have such number of votes as may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States under sub clause (a) and (b) by the total number of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, fractions exceeding one half being counted as one and other fractions being disregarded

(3) The election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot Explanation n this article, the expression population means the population ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published.

The voting value of an MLA varies from state to state; higher the population higher the value of the MLA’s vote. In total the country has 4120 MLAs and 776 parliamentarians whom they represent the over 1.2 billion people.

The value of the vote of an MLA is calculated as

Total population, which is defined as per the population registered in the census of 1971, in the state divided by 1000 and for that divided by the total number of MLAs in the state. For example the total population of Manipur is 1,072,753 (as per the census of 1971,) and it is divided by 1000 and to that divided by number of MLAs 60. Like this the vote value of an MLA of Manipur is 18 (17.8792).

The value of the vote of an MP is calculated as

The total number of elected MPs in Lok Sabha is 543 (excluding the two appointed by the President of India from Ango-Indian community). Out of the 245 sanctioned strength of MPs in the Rajya Sabha 12 of them are nominated by the president, thus the total number of Rajya Sabha MPs counted for presidential election comes at 233. Added all up, the total number of MPs vote in India is 776 (Lok Sabha 543 + Rajya Sabha 233).

The value of vote of an MP is fixed at 708 in India, which is calculated by dividing the total value of all MLAs’ votes of the country (5,49,474) by the number of MPs of both the houses (776). So the total number of votes for all the MPs in India is 5,49,408. While the total number of votes in the electoral college of the election to the President of India is total value of MLAs vote 5,49,495 + total MPs vote 5,49,408 =  10,98,903  votes.

Officially, two candidates Kovind of NDA and opposition’s Meira Kumar are in fray, and one among them will be the 14th President of India. Kovind has the support of ruling BJP’s alliance NDA and seven other smaller parties. The ruling NDA (BJP, SHS, TDP, LJSP, SAD, RLSP, AD, GFP, MGP, AINRC, JKPDP, NPF, NPP, PMK, SDF, SWP) has 237,888 in Lok Sabha and 49,560 votes in Rajya Sabha and in state assemblies it has 239,923 votes in its kitty. The total votes come at around 527,371 with 48.10 percent of votes, according to different sources and statistics available. The recent political updates of the political leaders of non-NDA parties namely AIADMK, YSRCP, JD(U), BJD, TRS, INLD and IND have expressed their stand to support the candidate of NDA. These parties have around 13 percent votes. However, they are not in either of the camp and likely to play the key role to elect a new President.

The date also revealed that the UPA (INC, IUML, RSP, KC (M), DMK) has 34,692 votes in Lok Sabha, 46,020 in Raj Sabha, 93,137 votes in state assemblies that comes a total of 173,849 votes with around 16 percent of vote to the upcoming 2017 Presidential Election of India. Other 14 parties (AITC, CPI(M), NCP,SP, BSP, AAP, RJD, AIUDF, JDS, JMM, AIMIM, CPI, JKNC) that have extended their support to the opposition’s candidate have a total number of 60,180 votes in Lok Sabha, 47,436 votes in Raj Sabha, 152,776 votes in state assemblies with around 24 percent of vote. The minimum number required to elect the president is 5,49,442. Considering the scenario, the NDA candidate has the advantage from the opposition’s joint candidate, however neither the NDA nor the UPA enjoys simple majority at its own.

Fig: present status of Electoral College

Brief Profile of Meira Kumar and Ram Nath Kovind

Born on 31 March 1945 (72) in Patna, Bihar is a former Lawyer, Politician and Diplomat. She is the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha (2009 to 2014) and also five time Member of Parliament.

The joint Presidential Candidate of the opposition parties for 2017 presidential election, Meira served as a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of Manmohan Singh’s Congress led Government (2004–2009).

Ram Nath Kovind, NDA’s candidate for 2017 Presidential candidate was born on 1 October 1945 in Kanpur Dehat district, Uttar Pradesh. The 71-year-old Dalit Politician was Governor of Bihar from 2015 to 2017.

Kovind holds a Bachelors degree in Commerce and LLB from Kanpur University. He joined BJP in the year 1991 and served as National Spokesperson of BJP. He also served Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) for 12 years (1994-2006).

This article was sent by Rorrkychand Wahengbam, who can be contacted at rorrky(at)gmail(dot)com.


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