As uncertainty prevails over the candidature for the July 19 presidential poll, history shows there has been only one President — the late Neelam Sanjiva Reddy — who was elected unopposed in independent India.

While he was elected in the 1977 poll, Reddy himself lost in the race to Rashtrapathi Bhavan during the election held on August 16, 1969, when V.V. Giri was victorious, securing 4,01,515 preferential votes (48.01 per cent).

Rajendra Prasad, who held office for two consecutive terms, holds the record of serving as President for the longest number of years and securing the highest percentage of votes, polling as high as 98.99 per cent (4,59,698 votes). He won the poll for a second term on May 6, 1957, against his rival, M.N. Das.

He is followed by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5,53,067 votes; 98.25%) and K.R. Narayanan (9,56,290 votes; 94.97%). Narayanan's rival in the July 14, 1997 poll was the former Chief Election Commissioner, T.N. Seshan.

Calculation method

After calculating the total value of votes polled by each candidate, the Returning Officer totals up the value of all valid votes polled. The quota for declaring a candidate elected is determined by halving the total value of valid votes and adding one to the figure, ignoring decimal values, if any.

For example, assuming that the total value of valid votes polled by all candidates is 1,00,001, the quota required for getting elected is: (1,00,001/2) + 1 = 50,000.50 + 1 = 50,001.

After ascertaining the quota, the Returning Officer has to see whether any candidate secured the quota for being declared elected on the basis of the total value of first preference votes polled by him/her. If no candidate gets the quota on the basis of first preference votes, the Returning Officer will proceed with the second round of counting, during which the candidate with the lowest value of votes of first preference is excluded and his votes are distributed among the remaining candidates according to the second preference marked on these ballot papers. The other contestants receive the votes of the excluded candidate at the same value at which he/she received them in the first round of counting.

The Returning Officer will go on excluding the candidates with the lowest number of votes in subsequent rounds of counting until either one of the continuing candidates gets the required quota or only one candidate remains in the field and will declare him/her elected.

A candidate will forfeit his/her deposit of Rs. 15,000 if he/she is not elected and the number of valid votes polled by him/her does not exceed one-sixth of the number of votes necessary to secure the return of a candidate at such an election. In other cases, the deposit will be returned.

A petition challenging the election of a person to the presidential office may be filed in the Supreme Court by any candidate, or by 20 or more electors joined together as petitioners, within 30 days of publication of the declaration containing the name of the returned candidate.

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