The Presidential Election

Wondering how the President is elected? So are we. And so are our elected representatives it seems. Read on.

WrittenBy:Sunayana Singh
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The President of India is the first citizen and represents the Indian nation and does not, therefore, belong to any political party.

(Snigger)…Dude that’s the official line, ok. So shoot me. He’s elected by the representatives of the people through an Electoral College.

There’s a college called Electoral College? Where? (Shocked silence)… Article 54 of the constitution says:

“The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of –

(a) The elected members of both Houses of Parliament and

(b) The elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States (including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Pondicherry vide the Constitution 70th amendment Act, 1992)”.

So it’s not really a college? NO! It means that on July 19, 2012 (four days before the current President’s term ends), the Electoral College which is all the Members of Parliament (MP) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLA) vote for a new President. This is the Electoral College and its total strength is 4,896. Which means all the members of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and members of all Legislative Assemblies of the States and Union Territories of India who are in office at the time of the election, all get to vote for the President. 

And we’ve seen LIVE on TV how this college behaves in class! Yes. But you’ve all watched porn in boring classes, no? But this is about the President.

Why can’t I vote for the President? Coz you’re dumb.

What? How dare you! Let me explain. In a country such as ours, which follows the Cabinet system of Government, the office of titular Chief Executive…

Tit-ular? Hee hee Shut up! Stop being silly, this isn’t your college. It’s technical. You know, it has very specific, limited and defined functions.  Also, Presidential duties are largely prescribed by other authorities (usually by the Legislature). The founders of our Constitution felt that regular people (us) weren’t competent enough to judge whether a candidate was suitable for that particular office. Translation – you’re too dumb.

And those who watch porn during assemblies and get caught are not?

ALSO, if there was a direct election by the people for the President of India, all the hopefuls would have to go around the country campaigning – which requires a lot of money. And where would this money come from?

(Blank) Sigh…from political parties, from businessmen or from someone or the other who props him up. And if that happens, it’ll be difficult for the President, once elected, to forget those affiliations, political or otherwise. So he or she may become biased towards a political party. 

That can still happen. If not please the aam aadmi for votes, they’ll please MLAs and MPs. Hmm! Point. Sorry, but you still don’t get to pick your President. Because if a President is directly elected, he may start to think at some point, especially if he doesn’t agree with the Cabinet or the Executive, that he has been elected by the people and therefore can do as he likes. He may want to assume real power

Sounds exciting! Like a coup. Seriously?

So all the super intelligent members of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha and all the MLAs go and vote one day? Um, well, yes and no.

Yes? Yes they will all vote one day. How many days do you think it’s gonna take.

No? It’s complicated. They vote yes, but the system of voting is a bit complex and not for the intellectually-challenged.

Then how do the politicians do it? Good one. They don’t do much. One Maths Honours pass per party is all it takes. Besides they are told by their party high command whom to vote for. But don’t quote me.

Ok, try me. Ok now listen very carefully. There are a total of 10,98,882 votes in the presidential election.

We have 10 lakh politicians??!! No wonder! Votes! 10,98,882 votes. Not MPs and MLAs. Each member of both houses of parliament has a certain number of votes, and each member of the state legislative has a certain number of votes.

They all have a different amount of votes? Yes! The weightage they get is different. The number of votes…

Why? Because say you’re an MLA and you’re representing a state that is sparsely populated, then you have a lesser number of votes than if you’re representing a populous state. So to make it fair, the more the population of your state, the more the votes you have, because the more the people you’re voting on behalf of. Understood.

So far, so good. I think. You have to take the population of the state, and divide it by the total number of the members of the legislative assembly. Then you divide that number by 1000 and you get the number of votes each MLA has. Easy right?

(Blank) Ok, for example if you take Punjab with the population of Punjab as 13,551,060. And the total numbers of MLAS are 117. So you divide the population of the state (as per the 1971 census) by the numbers of MLAs which is 117. The number you get is 115821.0256. Divide this by a thousand. And voila! The number you get is 115.8. You round-off the number to a higher amount if it’s over .5. Therefore each MLA in Punjab has 116 votes.

Hmm. The number of votes that Members of Parliament (both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) have is calculated a bit differently. This is how you calculate how many votes they get.

The Population of India (as per the 1971 census)/Total Members of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, and you get the number X. Then you divide that number X by a 1000 and that is the total number of votes each Member of Parliament has. Got it?

So all MPs get the same amount of votes? Yes

But all MLAs don’t? Yup, so by that calculation each Member of Parliament has 708 votes. As far as the states are concerned, the lowest value of votes was for the MLAs of Sikkim (7 votes) and the highest value of votes was for the MPs of Uttar Pradesh (208 votes).

Why are we using the 1971 census? The Constitution (84th Amendment) Act, 2001 provides that until the findings of the next census are published (whenever that is) the population of the States for calculating the value of votes will remain that of the 1971 census.

I think that’s skewed, and unfair to those of us who’ve diligently procreated over the last 40 years. No one cares what you think.

So whoever gets the maximum votes wins. Uh…ya.

Huh? Just to add to the general confusion, after the voting is over there’s some more calculating to do! The Returning Officer totals up the value of all valid votes polled for each candidate. You take the number of valid votes for each candidate, divide that by 2, and then add one to the total. And that is the amount of votes each candidate has. So (Total No of Votes/2) + 1 = Votes for the Candidate. (Ignore the remainder)

Why do you add one? Or divide by 2 for that matter? How does that matter to you?

Cool. All in all this is useful info to brandish at a party. 

Do carry this cheat sheet around so you can show off a bit.

Don’t try and field follow-up questions.

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With inputs from Aditya Joshi, Swarnabh Banerjee, Diksha Kumar

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