The presidential election will be held in July this year as the unblemished tenure of President Pranab Mukherjee is going to end. He will be remembered as an exemplary and graceful President. Initially the post of President was not considered political. Legends like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain graced the presidency with their persona. But with degeneration of politics and society the post of President was also politicized. As far as the post of president is concerned, the sanctity and prestige of the chair are no more consideration now. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was an exception in the era of narrow and partisan political culture. He was a unanimously elected President. It would auger well for Indian democracy if the President is elected by the consensus. But, in the current scenario it is ridiculous to even think about it. After the victory of Uttar Pradesh, BJP will put up a candidate with RSS background. Hence, it is almost certain that this election is going to be a highly polarized one.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Modi Government, the presidential election is not only important, but it’s a matter of prestige. Bharatiya Janata Party will not accept any such person as a President, who is against their ideology or who could publically express his dislike or dissatisfaction with the government. Therefore, it is expected that Narendra Modi will follow Indira Gandhi’s model of appointing a yes-man. Now the only question that remains to be answered is whether the candidate will be a veteran of BJP? Or will that person be an RSS Official? Or will he be a non-political professional?
There is a lot of confusion about the presidential candidate within the Bharatiya Janata Party. Many people are seeing Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj as potential candidates. But those who are familiar with the working style of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, they know that no senior politician from the Bharatiya Janata Party will be allowed to reach to the President’s chair. Those BJP leaders who do not share good rapport with the Prime Minister will not be even considered. L.K. Advani’s age and his unmitigated public-statements against Modi are the reasons that make him an unsuitable candidate. Murali Manohar Joshi, who is lobbying hard with the RSS officials, has been honored with Padma Vibhushan and has been excluded from this race. It is also being speculated that the name of Sushma Swaraj is being considered. Her biggest disadvantage is that she is senior to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the party. Her name may be considered, if the arithmetic of the elections is not in favor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is also rumored in political circles that Pranab Mukherjee can be given a second term. Actually this is a rumor. If Bharatiya Janata Party manages sufficient votes then it is likely that Narendra Modi will put up a Dalit leader with RSS background or a non-political professional.
Now the question is whether the Bharatiya Janata Party has the sufficient votes to win presidential elections on its own? The answer is a no. It’s not going to be easy for BJP to win presidential election on its own. While the Media has not yet turned its focus on the presidential election, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has taken the initiative to form a grand alliance. He is the first politician who has identified that Bharatiya Janata Party does not have requisite number and has taken initiative to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party. The five states, where elections are being held, got a total of 103757 votes for the presidential election, meaning the BJP is not only contesting the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur but it is also gathering votes for presidential elections as well. In order to win the presidential election, the BJP needs a large number of MLAs in these five states, especially in Uttar Pradesh BJP has to perform very well.
Despite being in majority in Lok Sabha as well as in 12 states, even then the BJP does not have sufficient votes to win the election. The arithmetic of the presidential election is so intriguing that the BJP will have to make a lot of efforts to win presidential elections. There are a total of 10.98 lakh votes in presidential election which is divided into two halves: One half belongs to the MPs and another to legislators from the states. There are a total of 4896 voters in the presidential election. Of these 776 are Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs and the remaining 4120 are MLAs from across the country. At present, the BJP has 282 Lok Sabha seats and 56 MPs in the Rajya Sabha and there are 1126 MLAs across the country. The value of every MP’s vote in the presidential election is 708. If the Bharatiya Janata Party is to get its candidate, then they will need 5.49 lakh votes, which they do not have at the moment.
If we add up all the votes of NDA together even then they do not reach the mark of 50 percent of the total votes. That means if all the opposition and regional parties join forces against BJP’s candidate, then it will become difficult for BJP to win. That’s why Uttar Pradesh assembly election was so important. from the point of view of presidential election. The most votes in the presidential election are in Uttar Pradesh. In this state, every legislator has 208 votes and there are total 83824 votes in Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh election is so important that the poor performance of the BJP could have cost them presidential election.
In such circumstances, the BJP can take help of regional parties. The problem BJP would face in creating a consensus over candidate. Many of the parties may have problems with RSS candidate. Unlike Vajpayee Government, Modi does not have good relations with prominent regional parties. Relationship with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is hostile to say the least. BJP can’t expect any help from left parties too. BJP will not get any help from BJD either because of the performance of BJP in the local elections in Odisha. One can’t be sure whether Shiv Sena will help the BJP in the presidential election. Narendra Modi may have to face difficulties in mobilizing support. It can be concluded that BJP will be unable to elect President of its choice. That is why Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has appealed to opposition parties to come together against the BJP for presidential election. Nitish recently talked to Nationalist Congress Party, Left Front and Indian National Lok Dal in Delhi. Nitish Kumar has expressed concern that Bharatiya Janata Party may elect an RSS man as President, therefore it is necessary to put up a consensus candidate from opposition side. Nitish Kumar is an experienced leader. He has taken a political initiative by accurately assessing the importance of the presidential election and the weakness of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The most important aspect of the presidential election is that no party can issue a whip. It means individual MPs and MLAs are free to vote any candidate of their choice. Also, as it is a Secret Ballot no one will be able to tell which MP or MLA voted for which candidate. These aspects can be a cause of worry for the BJP. Many of its MPs and MLAs are not happy with the functioning of the party. They are upset about the way Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are running the government and the party. Opposition parties are also aware of the resentment within the BJP. If the opposition parties go ahead with a well-crafted strategy and try to capitalize on this disconnection within the BJP, then the results of the presidential election can be shocking. Presidential election is an opportunity for the opposition where they can defeat BJP. However, for this, the opposition parties will have to unite and decide their unanimous candidate. Nitish Kumar has taken the initiative. Let’s see how other political parties respond to Nitish Kumar’s call.
Procedure for the Election of the President
In a federal democratic republic, the president is elected directly by the people. But In India, the election of President is elected through indirect voting. This means that the President is elected by the elected representatives by the people. In this election the elected MPs of both the Houses and the elected legislators from every state take part in voting. Nominated MPs and Legislative Council do not vote in this election. A total of 10.98 lakh votes are casted in the presidential election. Half of the total votes are attributed to MPs and the other half of votes are distributed among the legislators from the states. There are 4896 voters in the presidential election. Of these, 776 are MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the remaining 4120 are MLAs from all over the country. The Value of an MP and an MLA is not the same. There is a difference in value of vote among them.
The Election of President follows a special procedure. The election follows the system of Proportional representation by means of the Single transferable vote method. Each voter casts a different number of votes. The value of all the MPs is same while the MLAs from larger states have more votes than those from smaller states. The value of votes of legislators is dependent on the population of that state and the number of legislators. According to the 2011 census, India’s population is 1.2 billion, but for the calculation of value of votes in the presidential election only the figures of 1971 census are considered. Presidential elections will be conducted on the basis of the census of 1971 till 2026. The value of votes of MLAs of a particular state is calculated by dividing the state’s population by 1000, which is divided again by the number of legislators from the State. This number is the number of votes per legislator in a given state. All votes from all the states are then added and divided by the total number of MPs to get the value of votes for member of the parliament.
According to the 1971 census, the population of the state is divided by the number of elected members of the Legislative Assembly to extract the number of votes of the legislator of a state. The number in the result is divided by 1000 to get the final value of the vote of a legislator of that state. In this way the votes of the votes of the legislators of each state are taken out. Accordingly, vote of a legislator from Uttar Pradesh is 208 and Bihar’s MLA’s vote value is 173, while the value of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh legislators is only 8. In this way, the participation of every state is ensured on the basis of population. To calculate the value of MPs’ votes, the grand-total, of all votes of the legislators of all the states, is divided by the number of elected members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha which is 708.
There is a big difference between the general elections and presidential elections. The candidate who gets the most votes in the general election wins. While it is necessary to win more than 50 percent of the votes in order to win the presidential election. This means that besides 50 percent, 1 more vote is required in favor of the candidate. The presidential election is a multi-candidate election, which means more than two candidates can stand in this election. Therefore, it is not possible for most of the candidates to get more than 50 percent votes for the election. So it follows Preferential voting system. In this voters are given choice. Every voter gives vote in the order of their choice.
For example, suppose that there are a total of four candidates then the voters will have to mention first choice, second choice, third and fourth choice. During the counting only the first choice is calculated in the beginning. In the first round, if candidate number one gets 30 per cent, second 12 per cent, third 40 per cent, and fourth candidate gets 18 per cent. Then the candidate who receives the least votes is eliminated from the election process and his votes are transferred to rest of the three candidates according to the second choice. This process of Elimination continues till the time any candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes. However, it was only in1969, during the election VV Giri, the second preference was counted.