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Presidential elections: How parties are placed in the Electoral College

The race to Raisina Hill is heating up with the ruling coalition and the opposition chalking out their respective strategies for the upcoming Presidential election, scheduled to be held on 17 July.

The Presidential election involves a complex voting pattern. The President of India is elected by an Electoral College comprising of members of both the Houses of the Parliament and members of the state legislative assemblies. A total of 4896 voters – 4120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs – are eligible to cast their ballot to elect the next President of India.

In the Electoral College, the value of each MP’s vote is 708. But the value of each MLA’s vote differs according to the size of the respective state assemblies and population of the respective states. While an MLA in UP has the highest vote value of 208, an MLA in Sikkim has the lowest vote value of 7.

Let’s take a look at how the parties and alliances are placed in the Electoral College.

NDA: After the BJP’s emphatic win in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the BJP-led NDA is comfortably placed in the Electoral College. Currently, the NDA’s vote share stands at 48.64 per cent. There is a chance that Shiv Sena could play hard ball in this Presidential election also. It could be noted that in the last two Presidential elections, Sena broke ranks with NDA and voted for the UPA candidates.

This time also, the Sena insisted on RSS Sarasanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s candidature despite knowing very well that Bhagwat would never contest the Presidential election. If Shiv Sena won’t go with the NDA this time, the NDA’s vote share would reduce to 46 per cent. So basically the NDA needs the support of only one or two opposition parties to cross the half-way mark. In other words, the NDA needs around 20,000 more votes to ensure victory of its candidate.

UPA: On the other hand, the Congress-led Opposition block, which consists of 17 parties – CPM, CPI, JDU, RJD, TMC, SP, BSP, NCP, DMK and some other regional parties – has a 35.47 per cent vote share in the Electoral College. But the Opposition block is facing the key challenge of keeping a united front in the run up to the Presidential election with indications that that some partners may slip away.

So far, Sharad Pawar’s NCP is non-committal to the opposition bandwagon. Senior NCP leader Praful Patel maintains that the Opposition should wait as the government wants to talk to them. There remains question mark over JD(U) after Nitish Kumar skipped the Opposition meeting, for the Presidential election, on 25 May and joined a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trinamool Congress is yet to make any committeemen to the Opposition block.

Non-NDA, non-UPA parties: Apart from the Congress-led Opposition block, there six Opposition parties – AIADMK, BJD, TRS, YSR Congress Party, INLD and AAP who maintain ‘equal distance’ from the BJP and the Congress. Together, these six parties hold a total of 13 per cent vote share in the Electoral College.

It would be interesting to see which party will go with the ruling establishment and which one will stand with the opposition. Obviously all the six parties won’t stand together in the Electoral College. Apart from this there are tiny regional parties which also account for around 3 per cent vote share in the Electoral College.

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Saswat Panigrahi
Political writer, policy observer.

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