Presidential polls | National

With Yashwant Sinha on board, the Opposition hopes to bring Nitish Kumar to tilt scales in presidential polls

Nitish Kumar (right) with former President Pranab Mukherjee at an event in Patna in April 2017. File

Nitish Kumar (right) with former President Pranab Mukherjee at an event in Patna in April 2017. File

The Opposition parties are counting on making the 16th Presidential election a close contest. By nominating Yashwant Sinha as their candidate, the Opposition is now hoping to bring Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) onto their side, to make the battle slightly more even. Over the last many weeks, the JD(U) and the BJP have been at each other’s throats, and the latest point of friction is the government’s new military recruitment scheme Agnipath.

Also read: Yashwant Sinha | The political journey of the Opposition’s Presidential candidate

Nitish Kumar has a curious history in Presidential elections. In 2012, when he was part of the NDA alliance, he had voted in favour of the UPA nominee Pranab Mukerjee. And in 2017, while he was in a mahagatbandhan with the RJD, he voted for NDA nominee Ramnath Kovind. Just weeks after Mr. Kovind was elected, Mr. Kumar had walked out of the grand alliance and returning to the NDA. In keeping with this trend, the opposition parties are hoping that Mr. Kumar, to send out a message to BJP, with whom he has had an uneasy relationship since the Bihar 2020 Assembly results, could vote with them. The JD(U) leaders remain tight-lipped about the party’s voting preference. The JDU (United) has 22,769 votes which will push the Opposition tally past the 4.5 lakh mark.

Only Members of Parliament and Members of State Legislative Assemblies can vote in this election. The value of a vote for every MP is 700 and for each MLA, the value varies according to the strength of the population they represent.

Also read:NDA picks Draupadi Murmu, Opposition goes with Yashwant Sinha

Presidential polls more often than not are fixed matches where the result is known even before the game begins. The best bet for the Opposition is to make it a difficult contest by narrowing the government’s victory margin and giving them a few anxious moments.

The way the numbers are stacked at present, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has close to 5.23 lakh votes in the electoral college of over 10 lakh votes and is short of nearly 20,000 votes from the majority mark. They are hoping to make up for this difference with the support of the Biju Janta Dal which has 31,705 votes and the YSR Congress which has 45,798 votes.

“It is a much closer fight than people assume it to be. And it won’t be a cakewalk for the government,” Congress general secretary (Communication) Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu.

Also read:Presidential polls scheduled for July 18

Eleven Opposition parties (the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the DMK, the Shiv Sena, the NCP, the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the AIMIM, the JMM, the National Conference, the AIUDF ) and the Left front together have 3.8 lakh votes. If the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Aam Aadmi Party were to extend support to Mr. Sinha — this number will go up to 4.26 lakh. The Opposition is counting on the support of many other smaller parties taking the number closer to the NDA tally.

In 2017, Opposition candidate Meira Kumar who fought against the incumbent President Ramnath Kovind, got 3.67 lakh votes which was the highest votes polled by a losing candidate, breaking a 50-year-record.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2022 7:55:42 am |