India Today

THE ULTIMATE BATTLE

- —ANILESH S. MAHAJAN

JULY

will see a different kind of electoral battle—the one that will elect India’s 18th president. The ruling BJP has nominated former Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu for the post. A range of Opposition parties have grouped together to pit former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, but do not have the support of all nonNDA parties. Murmu, who has the numbers heavily tilted towards her at present, appears on track to become India’s first Adivasi president, besides the first to be born in independen­t India.

The President’s election is conducted by an electoral college consisting of all legislator­s—from the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state assemblies, measured by a differenti­ally weighted value. Each MP’s vote has a value of 708, whereas an MLA’s vote value is determined by the population of the particular state. For instance, an MLA from Andhra Pradesh has a vote value of 159 but one from Arunachal Pradesh has a vote value of only 6. Thus, the total electoral college accounts for 1,098,903 vote values. If the present scenario of party support for each candidate stays static, barring the undecideds, the confirmed proMurmu vote adds up to 632,669, and the confirmed proSinha vote totals 457,995. This disparity is partly because important nonNDA parties like the Biju Janata Dal and the YSR Congress have decided to back Murmu.

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