Presidential Election 2017: The voting to elect the new de jure Head of State of India has started at 32 different polling station across the country, including New Delhi. BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has pitted low key Ram Nath Kovind for the top post, while Congress-led United Opposition has pinned hopes on former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar. In some of the interesting highlights till publishing of this story, Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned up as the first parliamentarian to cast his vote. While Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parriakar who are still serving as MPs, were the only Lower House members to cast vote from their respective Assemblies. With the latest rift in JDU-RJD in Bihar, the show has become a bit more interesting as the opposition unity is facing a litmus test in the election. However, with a lot happening in Indian politics, and over 1 billion people set to get a new President, a number of people are still seem to be unaware of one thing – how the Indian President is elected. Here, we have formulated a quick guide for those who wan’t to know the process followed to elect the President of India.
Who elects the president?
Article 54 of the Indian Constitution lays the guidelines about voters in a Presidential election.
“Election of President The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament; and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States,” Article 54 of Indian Constitution reads.
Let us understand this.
Unlike the Prime Ministerial election, where people vote for a particular Lok Sabha candidate, the President is elected by people’s representatives, i.e, Member of Parliaments and Member of Legislative Assemblies of all states. The nominated members of Parliament, Legislative Assemblies, and members of Legislative Council don’t vote in the Presidential election.
Who is eligible to run for the President?
-A person who is 35 years of age
-An Indian National
-Must have a support of 50 MPs/MLAs (these can’t be nominated members)
-Must deposit Rs 15,000 as a security amount with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
-Must not hold any Office of Profit. (Any Constitutional position, which may further give rise to a conflict of interests in discharging of duties.)
Article 55 of Indian Constitution lays the guidelines about the way Indian President is to be elected.
“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 in this article, the expression population means the population ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published: Provided that the reference in this Explanation to the last preceding Census of which the relevant figures have been published shall, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2000 have been published, be construed as a reference to the 1971 Census,” article 55 reads.
Let us understand this in detail:
– Secret Vote: Unlike the voting for any Bill or any motion in Parliament or state Assembly, secret voting is done to elect the President (Nobody can ever come to know who voted for whom).
– Parties can’t issue a whip to their members: Since the Presidential election is intended to be free and fair, and representatives are supposed to exercise their free will, political parties are not allowed to issue a whip to their members for voting.
– Vote value: Vote of each MP and MLA carries a certain value. In the case of MLAs, the value is calculated by dividing total population of the state by the number of elected members to the Legislative Assembly, further divided by 1000. As of now, the value of each MLAs vote is fixed. The population data is taken from the 1971 Census. For example, the maximum vote value of an MLA is 208 (Uttar Pradesh), while the minimum is 8 (Goa).
– In the case of an MP, the vote value is decided by dividing the total value of votes of all MLAs of the whole country, divided by the total number of elected MPs in Lower House (Lok Sabha) and Rajya Sabha (Upper House). At present, the vote value of each MP is fixed at 708.
– Voting System: Unlike the conventional ballot voting, where the voter polls only for a single candidate of his choice, the lawmakers mark their preferences in the Presidential election. For example, if three candidates A, B, and C, are in the fray, then an elected lawmaker will vote according to his/her preference making her/his most preferred candidate as the top choice and accordingly for the rest of the candidates. It is mandatory for every lawmaker to mark his first preference, otherwise the vote is deemed invalid. He or she, however, can leave other preferences vacant.
Unlike the general election counting, where an MP or an MLA is elected through ‘first past the post’ system, the winner in Presidential election is declared on the basis of a quote which is obtained by dividing the total number of valid votes by 2, and adding 1 to quotient (total number of valid votes/2+1).
Let’s understand this in detail:
For example, if there are three candidates in the fray – A, B and, C and 10 valid votes are casted. The winner in this case will require 10/2 + 1 = 6 votes
Case 1: i) A gets 6 votes as 1st preference
i) A gets 6 votes as 1st preference
ii) B gets 3 votes as 1st preference
iii)C gets 1 votes as 1st preference
In this scenario, A will be declared as the winner for clearing the quota.
Case 2: i) A gets 5 votes as 1st preference
ii) B gets 3 votes as 1st preference
iii)C gets 2 votes as 1st preference
In this scenario, candidate C will get eliminated and the second preference of the two voters, who opted for C as their first preferences, would be added to the total first preference votes of the remaining two candidates.
If A clears the quota at this stage, then s/he will become the President. If not, the process would be repeated until one candidate emerges as the clear winner by getting the required quota of votes.