President Election: Modi & Shah’s Achilles Heel
In the summer of 2014 when Modi won a comfortable majority in Loksabha election and was on a roll in state assembly election of Maharashtra, Haryana, Assam, no one would have imagined he will face a tricky situation in President Election scheduled for 2017.
A presidential election is scheduled in India for 25 July 2017, the day when incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends. Mukherjee is eligible for re-election as no term limit exists in India. But, if we go by newspapers report he has already choosen his retirement house in consultation with Urban Development Ministry, so the question of him contesting for second term is very slim.
If we go by recent political development in Tamilnadu, Amit Shah decision to back O.Paneerselvam against Mrs Sasikala in Tamilnadu after the death of Ms. J. Jaylalitha to form government has backfired. This has strained the relationship fo BJP with AIADMK. As of today AIADMK has 37 seats in Loksabha and 12 in Rajysabha. AIADMK has 122 MLA’s in Vidhansabha after the trust vote.
The emergence of fresh round of strain between Shiv Sena and BJP for Municipal election in Mumbai will further put pressure on Modi and Shah calculation for president election. Shiv Sena is contesting alone the prestigious Mumbai Municpal Corporation election. Shiv Sena has 63 MLA’s in Vidhansabha. 18 Member of Parliament from Loksabha and 3 from Rajyasabha.
But Shah & Modi trouble doesnot end here. BJP stalwart and octogenarian leader L K Advani has been leaking his wound even since Goa conclave of 2012 where Modi has dethrone him and got declared as BJP PM candidate for 2014 Loksabha election.
According to a report published in Indian Express, L K Adevani has been meeting with NDA partners and regional parties and exploring the opportunity for his candidature. If LK Advani decideds to throw his hat in the ring for president election then Modi and Shah combine has lot to worry- as constitutional mandate of “secret ballot”, which permits MPs and MLAs to defy their party line and resort to conscience vote.
The president is elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of parliament, the elected members of the Legislative assemblies of the 29 states and the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.
The nomination of a candidate for election to the office of the President must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the Single transferable vote method. The voting takes place by secret ballot. The manner of election of President is provided by Article 55 of the Constitution.
This time, much of what BJP’s move will be depends on the results of Assembly polls in five states. The electoral college through which the President is elected comprises 4,896 legislators — 776 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, and 4,120 MLAs. All MPs have an equal vote value of 708 while that of MLAs varies according to the population of the state.
Of the 10.98 lakh votes in the electoral college this time, the majority mark would be 5.49 lakh votes. BJP has 282 Lok Sabha members and 1,126 MLAs. Twelve states have BJP-led governments, but the party is out of power in populous states like UP and Bihar. In UP, which is the country’s most populous state, the value of an MLA’s vote is 208. As for the remaining poll-bound states, the value of an MLA’s vote is 116 in Punjab, 64 in Uttarakhand, 20 in Goa and 18 in Manipur. NDA requires around 75,000 more votes to ensure that its nominee wins the election.
Results on 11 March 2017 of five state election will have a long lasting impact on electoral politics of India.If it’s a do and die situation for Congress in Punjab and Uttarakhand then for Modi and Shah it will be a acid test after demonetisation and completion of 3 years. In case BJP looses state election in UP, Goa and Uttarakhand it will set the tone for 2019 Loksabha election. Modi Shah combine will face a lot many tough question from within the party.
(By Abinash Chaudhary. Views expressed in this article are personal)