Presidential poll on July 19
The Election Commission on Tuesday set the ball rolling for the next president's election on July 19 even as the Congress holds back its candidate's name for want of response from Trinamul Congress boss Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal chief minister.
We got the date right -- way back in January.
The countdown begins on June 16 when the nominations open with the formal notification while June 30 is the last date for nominations, July 2 for scrutiny, and withdrawals allowed up to July 4.
The counting of votes polled in Delhi and the state capitals will be done in the Parliament House in Delhi on July 22 to let the new President of India be declared elected two days before the incumbent Pratibha Patil completes her five-year term.
Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath announced the schedule on the day of a series of by-elections across the states to complete the electoral college for the election, comprising elected members of both the Houses of Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies.
The nomination has to be signed by the candidate and 100 members of the electoral college as the law requires a minimum of 50 to propose and a minimum of 50 to second, along with a security deposit of Rs 15,000. Rajya Sabha Secretary General Dr Vivek Agnihotri is the returning officer while two joint secretaries of the Rajya Sabha and the secretaries of 30 Assemblies are the assistant returning officers for this poll.
The MPs are normally supposed to vote in the Parliament House and the MLAs in their respective state assemblies, but they can be allowed to vote at their place of choice by applying to the Election Commission in the prescribed form at least 10 days before the polling. It means a MLA of Maharashtra can vote in Bhopal or a MP from Delhi can vote in Guwahati.
Those in the preventive custody will be allowed to exercise their franchise through postal vote, the CEC said in reply to a question. He, however, was not clear when asked if one figuring in the electoral college as both an MP and MLA can vote twice. He said one has to decide within 14 days as to which position to hold and as such he can vote as whatever office he holds on the day.
Election Commission officials, however, later clarified that nobody can cast two votes and as such the member concerned will have to make the choice to whether he votes as an MP or as a MLA. The value of each MP's vote is 708 while the MLA's vote value is different in different states from as low as 7 in Sikkim to 208 in Uttar Pradesh and as such one would always prefer to vote as an MP, the officials pointed out.
Nominations are to be filed only in Delhi before the returning officer while the counting of votes cast at the state assemblies will be brought to Delhi for counting of all votes polled in Delhi by the returning officer.
The votes have to cast not for just one candidate but the voter has to mention his or her second, third and as many preferences as the candidates in the fray as the procedure of elimination is adopted if one is not elected straightway by the majority of the votes.
Altogether, 4,896 MPs and MLAs will be casting their votes in the Presidential election. A total of 543 of them are members of the Lok Sabha, 233 members of the Rajya Sabha and 4120 members of the State Assemblies. The nominated members are not eligible for inclusion in the electoral college and hence not entitled to participate in the election.
The vote value of each MP and MLA is calculated on the basis of the total number of seats and the total population. The calculation, however, remains stuck to the population figures of the 1971 Census since the 84th Constitution amendment in 2001 rules that the new population figures will be taken up only after the eyar 2026.
A publication brought out by the Election Commission lists the value of the vote of each MLA in different states while the value of the MP's vote is 708.
The total value of the electoral college is 10,98,882 and whosoever cross the half mark that is more than 5,49,442 will be declared elected. However, if nobody secures these many votes than the returning officer has to proceed with second, third and fourth rounds of counting, as necessary, which is a very complicated game.
The candidate having the lowest value of votes in the first preference is excluded and his votes are distributed among the remaining candidates according to the second preference marked on the ballot papers. The value of these distributed votes is same as the first round. The returning officer will go on excluding the candidate with the lowest votes till either one of the continuing candidates gets the required quota or till only one is left in the field as the continuing candidate to be declared as elected.