President Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure will end on July 14 this year and the election for the new president has to be held before that date. Ruling BJP-led NDA and Opposition parties have moved to finalise their presidential candidate and the names are expected to be announced soon. Both sides are actively negotiating with voting parties to cross the halfway mark that will elect the candidate of their choosing. Here is how the numbers game plays up in this election:
Elected Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies, who form the Electoral College, vote in the presidential election. The value of each vote is calculated according to a special formula that depends on the population of the constituency of the elected representative.
All the votes are added to the Electoral College which amounts to 4,896 electors. This electoral college comprises 776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs from across the country. According to numbers attributed to Hindustan Times, the total value of MP votes is 5,49,408 votes and the total value of MLA votes is 5,49,474 votes. While value of MLA vote can differ between states and UTs, the value of an MP vote is 708. The total value of votes of the electoral college is 10,98,882 votes. The minimum number required to elect the president is 5,49,442.
Taking these numbers in the prevailing political situation, neither the NDA nor the Opposition enjoy a simple majority as of now. Therefore, undecided parties like the TRS, BJD and the AIADMK who are not in either camp are set to play a major role in the numbers game.
The National Democratic Alliance ruling at the Centre comprises of the BJP, Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Akali Dal, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and 14 other parties. The NDA currently has 5,37,614 votes to its to itself. The alliance is still short of 11,828 votes to reach the majority mark.
The Opposition unity, on the other hand, as of now it looks to enjoy 4,02,230 votes and are short by a huge margin of 1,47,212 votes.
The undecided parties AIADMK, Biju Janta Dal (BJD), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), Aam Aadmi Party and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) will play the key role as they hold a combined share of 1,59,038 votes. These parties enjoy as much as 13 per cent share in the vote pie and are not aligned to either the Congress or the BJP in their respective state’s political grounds.
In the current scheme of things, the NDA would win just by the support of the AIADMK taking its count to 5,96,838. However, for the Congress-led Opposition to prevail with its candidate, it will have to overcome the difficult task of getting the support of at least the Shiv Sena, AIADMK, BJD, AAP and YSR Congress. That would take their count to 5,49,814 votes, past the majority mark.
The Opposition parties have for now left the ball in the court of the government saying if they do not come to a consensus on the candidate, then they will support the candidate of the government’s choosing. However, the clear fact is that Opposition parties are rallying behind the Congress and Sonia Gandhi is meeting the chiefs of the Opposition parties.
The Shiv Sena, part of the NDA, has had a strained relationship with the BJP for quite some time now. It voted for the UPA candidate last time and could do the same this time as well. Trinamool Chief Mamata Banerjee whose party had voted against the Congress candidate in the last two elections has supported the Opposition unity against the BJP and so has BSP chief Mayawati.
The AIADMK still remains a key decider but despite their regular courting of the top BJP leadership, it hasn’t come out in support of the NDA or the Opposition, possibly due to the leadership crisis in the party. As for AAP, it has been at loggerheads with the BJP and even though it claims to be neutral, it seems siding with the Opposition unity could be the choice option for them.
As for the TRS, its tussle with Amit Shah recently and more so in the state with Telangana BJP could be a cause for concern for the NDA. Recently, senior state BJP leader N. Janardhan Reddy accused the TRS government led by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao as one that is struck deep with corruption.
In the case of the BJD, the BJP fought the former in the recent local body elections. Secondly, in March tensions emerged between the BJP and the BJD. Party’s Lok Sabha member Tathagata Satapathy in a series of tweets alleged that the BJP was trying to engineer a breakup in the BJD.
As of now, the NDA is certainly closer to the half-way mark though it has to reach out to the parties on the fence to ensure that its candidate sails through.