The BJP’s decisive victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand assembly polls will empower the saffron party in the selection of the next presidential candidate when Pranab Mukherjee retires in July. The BJP, which has a thumping majority in the Lok Sabha, having 281 MPs in the House of 543, needed extra numbers to have the candidate of its choice in Raisina Hills when the incumbent demits office on 25 July, 2017. Mukherjee’s successor will be elected by an electoral college comprising members of both houses of Parliament and elected members of the assemblies of 29 states plus the national capital territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
BJP is already in power in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Assam and in coalition with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir and with TDP in Andhra Pradesh. Now with Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in its kitty with a huge majority, the BJP is now in a better position to see its candidate through to the office of president.
Having a person of its choice in Rashtrapati Bhavan will be helpful to the party if it needs support in complicated political situations besides getting formal assent to laws passed by Parliament. The win in UP is especially significant because UP Assembly members carry the maximum value of votes in a presidential election, given the fact that the state is India’s most populous.
The value of a vote of an elected state legislator is equivalent to the population of the state divided by the number of elected legislators divided–yet again–by 1,000. Also falling vacant in August is the vice president’s office with incumbent Mohammed Hamid Ansari completing his second five-year term.
While the BJP will be certain to nominate one of their own candidates for the post of president, the post of vice president could go to an ally. The BJP in 2002 got its nominee—former Rajasthan chief minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat—elected to the post of Vice President.
The BJP hopes that the good show in the elections will also help it on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. The GST, considered to be country’s biggest reform measure in two decades has been pending since 2015 because for lack of cooperation from Congress in the Upper House of Parliament where the BJP is short in numbers.
For passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha, there is a need that the number of MPs opposing it comes down. Now, with the massive majority in UP and Uttarakhand, BJP hopes to send maximum number of its candidates to Rajya Sabha during the biennial elections to the Upper House.
The changed scenario will pave way for more BJP MPs in the Rajya Sabha by the end of July with upcoming retirements.