Presidential Election 2017: Surprising all, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday declared Ram Nath Kovind, Bihar Governor and a low-key Dalit leader, as the NDA candidate for Presidential Election 2017. While the Opposition parties – Congress, Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist) – have expressed their displeasure on the move, ally Shiv Sena is non-committal for now. However, in a bundle of surprise for NDA, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati praised the move to declare Kovind as the candidate. As Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s choice for the President is clear now, the million dollar question is – How easy or difficult will the road be for Kovind to reach Raisina Hills.
Now, the Opposition has decided to meet on June 23 to take a decision on Presidential candidate. If a joint opposition candidate is pitted and election for the President takes place, Kovind will need 5,49,442 votes – the halfway mark – in order to win the elections. As per the Constitution, the winner in Indian Presidential Election is decided by an Electoral College system. The election takes place through the electoral college, and currently the total strength is fixed at 10,98,882 votes. The candidate, who crosses the halfway-mark is declared as the winner. All the elected lawmakers, i.e Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies, vote in the election.
Each lawmaker’s vote comes with a fixed vote value based on the population of the constituency he represents. Currently, vote value of each MP is fixed at 708.The value of each MLA’s vote differs from state to state. Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country, has the maximum vote value per MLA – 208 – and a total of 83, 824 votes. It is worth mentioning that recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls worked as a mega-boost for NDA’s Presidential election prospect.
Currently, the NDA is in a very strong position for the elections. While the alliance, dominated by BJP, is in power at the Centre, its governments rule in at least 14 states out of a total 29. The saffron party is currently ruling Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, Gujarat, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Assam. Also, it is in power alonng with allies in Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh.
Led by Amit Shah, BJP is undoubtedly witnessing its most glorious time, as the party currently has over 280 MPs in the Lok Sabha, 56 MPs in Rajya Sabha and a whopping 1382 MLAs in total in Legislative Assemblies. With the formidable presence, the total of party’s electoral votes, along with allies, sums up to around 5,24,920 (Data: Hindustan Times) – only 24, 522 short of what is required.
For the marginal electoral gap, the party may turn up to a number of options available. While BSP and Odisha-based BJD have already announced their support, JD(U) might also extend its support. The party may also seek help from AIADMK or DMK – parties dominating Tamil Nadu. BJP is not aligned with any of them yet. Both of the parties have differences with the latter on the issue of imposition of Hindi and cattle slaughter. The value of votes of Tamil Nadu Assembly MLAs stands at 41184 – a number which can well fill the shortage being faced by BJP. All in all, Kovind, the Presidential pick of Modi and Shah is not likely to face much difficulties even if most of the Opposition comes under one roof. It seems the road to Raisina will be a cakewalk for Ram Nath Kovind.