Elections to the post of President are due next year in July. The term of current President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 25, 2022.
In the parliamentary form of democracy, the President is the Head of State and the Supreme Commander of the defence forces. He is elected by the representatives elected by the people, i.e., MPs and MLAs. MLCs do not vote in these elections.
The President of India is elected by an Electoral College consisting of:
(i) Elected members of Lok Sabha (543)
(ii) Elected members of Rajya Sabha (233), Nominated members are not allowed to vote
(iii) Elected members of State Legislative Assemblies including Delhi and Puducherry (4120)
The value of the vote of a MP is 708. The value of vote of an MLA depends upon the population of the state as per 1971 Census and the number of elected members of the House. It is highest for Uttar Pradesh at 208 and lowest for Sikkim at 7. The total value of votes in the Electoral College is 10,98,882.
50% of the electoral college comprises the value of votes of all MLAs and the balance 50% value of votes of all MPs.
Voting is done through a secret ballot and members are not bound by any party whip. The elections are held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
Each elector / voter has to mark preferences for the candidates contesting the election, by placing the figures 1, 2, 3 and so on, against the names of the candidates, in the order of his / her preference.
A candidate requires ‘50% of valid votes polled +1’ (quota) of the first preference votes cast to win the elections.
Elections to 5 states - UP, Mizoram, Goa, Uttarakhand and Punjab - are slated to happen before the elections for President in Q1 of 2022. 70 MPs of Rajya Sabha are also retiring next year and elections for the same are also likely to happen before Presidential polls.
A spirited opposition after victory in West Bengal is likely to put up a common candidate against BJP’s official nominee. Hectic parleys have begun to bring all non-BJP opposition parties on a single platform for the 2024 general elections. The 2022 Presidential elections will be the first test of such an alliance.
Bringing all opposition parties under one roof is going to be hell of a task. Many parties like YSRCP, BJD and TRS which are in power in Andhra, Odisha and Telangana, may not back opposition candidates as they have in the past shown pro-BJP tendencies. Mayawati’s BSP too has backed the NDA in the recent past in Parliament.
Currently, the BJP-led NDA has 58% votes of the two Houses of Parliament and 41% votes of the legislative assemblies. That makes it of the votes of the electoral college, just 0.05% below the majority mark. Independents account for 0.27% votes in the legislative assemblies. They usually back the winning horse.
Then you have the three parties YSRCP, BJD and TRS which have 9.9% of the votes which are unlikely to back a UPA candidate as they are more anti-Congress than anti-BJP. These parties were born out of anti-Congressism as a plank. These parties have been formed as a result of the split from the Congress.
Now we come to the all important elections of UP next year which will be held before the Presidential polls. Even if BJP wins a simple majority, that is NDA loses 115 seats from the current tally in the House, the party can still see its candidate win the Presidential polls. This would shave off NDA’s 2.18% vote share in the electoral college.
Still, NDA would be ahead with 48% votes, higher than UPA which is expected to be at 42% (including BSP and SP in the worst case scenario) and fence sitters with 10% vote share. The fence sitters have helped NDA pass important legislation in Rajya Sabha where it does not enjoy a majority.
Even if UPA puts up a heavyweight like Sharad Pawar, it is unlikely that these three parties dump NDA and vote for UPA candidate as they would not like to strain their relationships with the central government.
The BJP is emerging as the main opposition to these parties in their backyards in Andhra, Telangana and Odisha. However, the Patnaiks, Reddys and Raos are propping up the BJP to finish off Congress in their states. These parties also earn brownie points by backing the NDA's Presidential candidate.