The story so far: The tenure of the current President of India Ram Nath Kovind is set to end in July this year, which is also when the 16th Indian Presidential election will be held to elect his successor. The Assembly elections held in five States this year, and the changes in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), are expected to alter the dynamic of votes in the upcoming presidential race.
How is the President elected?
The Indian President is elected through an electoral college system, wherein the votes are cast by national and State-level lawmakers. The elections are conducted and overseen by the Election Commission (EC) of India.
The electoral college is made up of all the elected members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs), and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of States and Union Territories (MLAs). This means, in the upcoming polls, the number of electors will be 4,896 — 543 Lok Sabha MPs, 233 MPs of the Rajya Sabha, and 4,120 MLAs of all States, including the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi and Union Territory of Puducherry.
Before the voting, comes the nomination stage, where the candidate intending to stand in the election, files the nomination along with a signed list of 50 proposers and 50 seconders. These proposers and seconders can be anyone from the total of 4,896 members of the electoral college from the State and national level. The rule for securing 50 proposers and seconders was implemented when the EC noticed, in 1974, that several candidates, many without even a bleak chance of winning, would file their nominations to contest the polls. An elector cannot propose or second the nomination of more than one candidate.
What is the value of each vote and how is it calculated?
A vote cast by each MP or MLA is not calculated as one vote. There is a larger vote value attached to it.
The fixed value of each vote by an MP of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha is 708. Meanwhile, the vote value of each MLA differs from State to State based on a calculation that factors in its population vis-a-vis the number of members in its legislative Assembly. As per the Constitution (Eighty-fourth Amendment) Act 2001, currently, the population of States is taken from the figures of the 1971 Census. This will change when the figures of the Census taken after the year 2026 are published.
The value of each MLA’s vote is determined by dividing the population of the State by the number of MLAs in its legislative Assembly, and the quotient achieved is further divided by 1000. Uttar Pradesh for instance, has the highest vote value for each of its MLAs, at 208. The value of one MLA’s vote in Maharashtra is 175, while that in Arunachal Pradesh is just 8. The total votes of each Legislative Assembly are calculated by multiplying the vote value of each MLA by the number of MLAs.
Finally, based on these values, the total number of votes of all Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs would be 5,59,408 (776 MPs X 708), and the total votes of all MLAs from State Legislative Assemblies would come up to 5,49,495. Thus, the grand total vote value of the whole electoral college comes up to 10,98,903.
What is required to secure a victory?
A nominated candidate does not secure victory based on a simple majority but through a system of bagging a specific quota of votes. While counting, the EC totals up all the valid votes cast by the electoral college through paper ballots and to win, the candidate must secure 50% of the total votes cast + 1.
Unlike general elections, where electors vote for a single party’s candidate, the voters of the electoral college write the names of candidates on the ballot paper in the order of preference.
What can be expected in the upcoming presidential polls?
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu is reportedly the frontrunner for the presidential race nominated by the ruling NDA unless a second term ticket is given to Mr. Kovind. Meanwhile, Opposition parties are contemplating jointly putting up a candidate for the race. As per data after the Assembly elections held in five states —U.P., Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa, the BJP-led NDA alliance can secure a total vote value of 5,39,827 if all its MPs and MLAs cast their vote.
This is still around 9,625 votes short of the halfway mark. It is important to note, however, that victory will be calculated based on those who actually cast their votes this time; their vote value will then be divided by 50, with the number one being added to the figure. In the Upper and Lower houses of Parliament, if all NDA MPs cast their vote in favour of its nominated candidate, it can secure a vote value of 3,23,556, and this number in the case of all NDA MLAs voting is 2,16,271.
Things have changed for the NDA from the 2017 Presidential polls.
In Maharashtra, which has a high total vote value of 50,400; the BJP is no longer allied with the Shiv Sena, which supported the NDA candidate in 2017. The NDA now has a vote value of 19,775 from Maharashtra’s total. In Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) broke away from the BJP-led alliance over the farmers' agitation issue. Punjab has a total vote value of 13,572, of which the NDA’s vote value comes up only to 464. In this year’s Assembly polls in Punjab, the BJP did not win any more than the two seats it already had.
After the recent U.P. Assembly election, the NDA’s tally of MLAs in the State Legislative Assembly went up to 273, which if multiplied by the value of each member's vote (208), comes up to 56,684, which is more than half the total value of all U.P. MLAs.
Meanwhile, despite winning in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, the tally of seats won by the BJP came down in all three States compared to the previous presidential election.
This article is written taking into consideration all the Assemblies in the country. However, as J&K Assembly is not eligible to vote and only Delhi and Puducherry UTs can (as of now) vote in the presidential elections, the figures might slightly vary.
- The Indian President is elected through an electoral college system, wherein the votes are cast by national and State-level lawmakers. In the upcoming polls, the number of electors will be 4,896 — 543 Lok Sabha MPs, 233 MPs of the Rajya Sabha, and 4,120 MLAs of all States and UTs.
- The fixed value of each vote by an MP of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha is 708. Meanwhile, the vote value of each MLA differs from State to State based on a calculation that factors in its population vis-a-vis the number of members in its legislative Assembly.
- Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu is reportedly the frontrunner for the presidential race nominated by the ruling NDA while Opposition parties are contemplating jointly putting up a candidate for the race.