Explained: This is how India elects its President

The Election Commission of India has announced the schedule for the Presidential election 2017. As per the schedule, the election to choose the next President of India will be held on July, 17 while the results will be declared on July 20. The current President, Pranab Mukherjee’s term as President will end on July 24.

Meanwhile, so far no party or coalition has finalised the name for the presidential election. The ruling BJP has formed a three-member group to negotiate with the Opposition parties in a bid to evolve a consensus on the nominee. So far now, the names doing rounds as possible NDA candidate are Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and UP Governor Ram Naik. On the other hand, Opposition parties held preliminary discussions on the issue but decided to meet again for detailed parleys after the government makes public its choice of candidate.

As we near the 2017 Presidential polls, here’s a quick 10-point guide to help understand how things work:

Who elects the President?

The President is elected by an Electoral College consists of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all the States and Union Territories.

What are the Qualifications required by a candidate to contest the election to the Office of the President of India?

Under Article 58, a candidate should fulfill the following eligibility conditions to contest the election to the Office of President:

  1. Must be a citizen of India,
  2. Must have completed 35 years of age,
  3. Must be eligible to be a member of the Lok Sabha,
  4. Should not be holding any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments. However, the candidate may be holding the office of President or Vice-President or Governor of any State or Ministers of the Union or any State and shall be eligible to contest the election.

What is the term of the office of the President?

The President shall hold office for a term of 5 years from the date on which he enters upon his office.

What is the procedure of counting in a Presidential election?

A candidate needs to secure a certain quota of votes which is 50 percent of the valid votes polled +1. In general Indian elections, each person casts one vote. But in the Presidential election, each MP and MLA vote has a certain value attached to it. This differs from state to state. For example, each Uttar Pradesh legislator’s vote has a value of 208, while the value of votes from their counterparts in Arunachal Pradesh is just 8. In the Presidential elections, The total combined value of votes is 10,98,903 — 5,49,408 for MPs and 5,49,495 for MLAs. The halfway mark is expected to be 5,49,442 votes.

How is the value of votes of members of the Electoral College calculated?

The value of votes of electors is basically determined on the basis of population of the States in accordance with the manner laid down in Article 55(2) 7 of the Constitution. The Constitution (Eighty-fourth Amendment) Act, 2001 provides that until the population figures for the first census to be taken after the year 2026 have been published, the population of the States for the purposes of calculation of the value of the votes for the Presidential Election shall mean the population as ascertained at the 1971 census.

The value of the vote of each member of a State Legislative Assembly included in the Electoral College is calculated by dividing the population of the State concerned (as per 1971 Census) by the total number of elected members of the Assembly and then further dividing the quotient by 1000. If the remainder, while so dividing is 500 or more, then the value is increased by ‘1’. Total Value of votes of all members of each State Assembly is worked out by multiplying the number of elective seats in the Assembly by the number of votes for each member in the respective State.

The total value of votes of all the States worked out as above in respect of each State and added together is divided by the total number of elected members of Parliament (Lok Sabha 543+Rajya Sabha 233) to get the value of votes of each Member of Parliament.

As reported by the Election Commission of India, in 2017, the total number of members in the Electoral College is 4896. The break-up is as follows:

Members of Rajya Sabha – 233

Members of Lok Sabha – 543

Total members of State Assemblies – 4120

Total – 4896

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