Presidential poll on July 18; here’s how India elects Ram Nath Kovind’s successor

In the history of Indian Presidential elections, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy is the only President to have been elected unopposed, in 1977.

The Electoral College for the presidential election comprises Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members along with members of the legislative assemblies of states and Union territories

President Ram Nath Kovind’s term will end on July 24. The election to choose a new President will be held on July 18, and the counting is on July 21.

The new President will take oath on July 25.

Kovind was elected as the President of India in July 2017. This year’s Presidential election will be the 16th to the office with the first-ever poll held in 1952.

Also read: Who next after Kovind? That’s a tough challenge for Modi

In a press conference on Thursday (June 9), Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar shared the details of the Presidential election.

Nominations for the Presidential election will begin on June 15 and the last date for filing nominations is June 29. The scrutiny of nominations will be done on June 30 and the last date for withdrawing nominations is July 2, said Kumar.

He added that no whip can be issued by a political party to influence voting. The polling will be held following all Covid protocols as applicable in respective states.

“The Election Commission, in consultation with the Central Government, appoints the Secretary General of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, by rotation, as the Returning Officer. Accordingly, the Secretary General, Rajya Sabha will be appointed as the Returning Officer for the present election to the Office of the President,” the EC said.

Source: Election Commission of India.

Here is a lowdown on the whole Presidential poll exercise.  

Also read: Presidential pay-slip: The debate over Ram Nath Kovind’s monthly tax outgo

How is President elected?

The President of India is elected by the members of an Electoral College consisting of – the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States (including the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry), according to Article 55 of the Constitution.

The members nominated to either House of Parliament or the Legislative Assemblies of State including NCT of Delhi and UT of Puducherry are not eligible to be included in the Electoral College.

In 2017, the total number of members in the Electoral College was 4,896 (Rajya Sabha 233; Lok Sabha 543; State Assemblies 4,120).

For 2022, the total number of members is 4,809 (MPs – 776; MLAs – 4,033), the Election Commission of India (EC) said. The total vote value is 10,86,431 (MPs – 5,43,200) (MLAs – 5,43,231).

Eligibility for election

No person shall be eligible for election as President unless he – is a citizen of India; has completed the age of 35 years; and is qualified for election as a member of the House of the People (Article 58).

A person shall not be eligible for election as President if he holds 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 State Governments.

Proposers and seconders

A Presidential candidate should get his nomination paper subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and at least 50 electors as seconders. No elector shall subscribe whether as proposers or as seconder, more than one nomination paper at the same election and if he does so, his signature shall be inoperative on any nomination paper other than the one first delivered.

Not more than four nomination papers can be filed by or on behalf of a candidate or received by the Returning Officer.

The security deposit for the election is ₹15,000 which will be required to be made along with the nomination paper.

How votes are calculated

The Constitution also stipulates that there shall be uniformity, as far as practicable, in the scale of representation of the different States at the election (Article 55). For securing such uniformity among the States inter se as well as parity between the States as a whole and the Union, a formula based on the population of each State is given in the Constitution for determination of the value of the vote which each elected Member of Parliament (MP) and of the Legislative Assembly of each State (MLAs) is entitled to cast.

The Constitution (Eighty-fourth) Amendment Act, 2001 provides that until the relevant 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 value of votes for the Presidential Election shall mean the population as ascertained at the 1971-census.

The 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. The total value of votes of all the States added together is divided by the total number of elected members of Parliament (Lok Sabha + Rajya Sabha) to get the value of votes per each Member of Parliament.

Secret ballot

The election shall be held in accordance with the system of ‘Proportional Representation’ by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.

The ballot paper does not contain any election symbol. There will be two columns in the ballot paper. Column 1 of the ballot paper contains the heading “Name of Candidate” and column 2 contains the heading “order of preference”.

Each Elector shall have as many preferences as there are contesting candidates, but no ballot paper shall be considered invalid solely on the ground that all such preferences are not marked.

“Marking can only be done through particular pens provided by the designated officials along with ballot paper. If marked with any other pen makes the vote invalid,” the EC said.

An elector in giving his vote shall place the figure 1 in the space opposite the name of the candidate whom he chooses for his first preference and may, in addition, mark as many subsequent preferences as he wishes by placing on his ballot paper the figures 2,3,4 and so on in the spaces opposite the names of other candidates, in order of preference. The figures may be marked in the international form of Indian numerals or in the Roman form or in the form used in any Indian language “but shall not be indicated in words”, the EC said.

Place of voting

Normally, Members of Parliament are expected to cast their votes at the place of polling in the Parliament House, New Delhi. Similarly, Members of State Legislative Assemblies are expected to vote at the respective State Legislative Assemblies. However, on account of any exigency or special circumstances, the MPs can vote in any of the approved places of polling in the Legislative Assemblies of States/NCT of Delhi/UT of Puducherry. In similar conditions, any MLA may vote at the place of polling in Parliament House, New Delhi or in any of the approved places of polling in the Legislative Assembly of other States/NCT of Delhi/UT of Puducherry, according to the EC.

For this purpose, the MPs/MLAs concerned have to apply, in advance, to the EC in the prescribed format so as to reach the Election Commission at least 10 days before the date of the poll. The format for making such application will be available with the Returning Officer and with the Assistant Returning Officers.

Previous elections

The Presidential election to be held in 2022, will be the 16th of such elections to the office of the President. The earlier elections to this office were held in 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017.

Elected unopposed

In the history of Indian Presidential elections, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy is the only President to have been elected unopposed, in 1977.

Back then, 37 candidates had filed their nominations. On scrutiny, the Returning Officer rejected the nominations filed by 36 candidates. Thus only one validly nominated candidate remained in the field – Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. Neither the preparation nor publication of the list of contesting candidates for taking the poll therefore became necessary.

“This was the first time when a candidate was declared elected to the highest office of the President of India without a contest,” the EC said.

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