Ram Nath Kovind vs Meira Kumar: MPs, MLAs to vote for next President tomorrow; numbers favour NDA candidate
Election for the next President of India will be held tomorrow where NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind is pitted against opposition nominee Meira Kumar. A total of 32 polling stations -- one in Parliament House and one each in the state legislative assemblies, have been set up. The ballot boxes will be brought to Delhi where the counting of votes will take place on July 20. 33 observers have been appointed by the EC to oversee the conduct of election. While two observers will be present in the Parliament House, one each will be deployed in the respective state assemblies. This time, the Lok Sabha secretary general is the returning officer. Last time, it was the secretary general of Rajya Sabha.
The tenure of incumbent Pranab Mukherjee comes to an end on July 24.
Who votes in presidential election
The electoral college which elects the President through the system of proportional representation, comprises MPs and members of state legislative assemblies. A total of 4896 voters --- 4120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs -- are eligible to cast their ballot. MLCs of states with legislative council are not part of the electoral college. While 233 are elected members of the Rajya Sabha, 543 are from the Lok Sabha.
While the Lok Sabha Speaker, an elected member, can vote, the two nominated members in the Lower House from the Anglo-Indian community cannot. Twelve nominated members in Rajya Sabha are also ineligible.
The value of an MLA's vote depends on the population of the state he or she represents. But the value of the vote of an MP does not vary -- it is 708. Hence, the different colour of ballot papers will help the returning officer count the votes based on the value.
The total value of the electoral college is 10,98,903.
Numbers favour Kovind
The electorate is tilted in favour of the NDA, but the opposition is still working to seek support of some regional parties in favour of their candidate. The NDA, led by the BJP, has 5,37,683 votes includes the Shiv Sena, and the shortage is around 12,000 votes. But the promised support from the BJD, the TRS and the YSR Congress and likely backing from the AIADMK factions could offset the shorfall of the presidential votes by a substantial margin.
Since the election is through a secret ballot, the parties cannot issue a whip to their members to vote for a particular candidate.
Voters barred from carrying their pens inside voting chamber
MPs and MLAs have been barred from carrying their personal pens inside the voting chamber and will have to mark their ballot with a specially-designed marker, the Election Commission said today.
Following the ink controversy in the Rajya Sabha polls in Haryana last year, the Election Commission has decided to use special pens for the electors to mark their votes in the presidential and vice-presidential polls. Specially serial-numbered pens with violet ink have been supplied by the Election Commission to ensure that only the writing instrument issued by it is used by voters to mark their votes tomorrow.
"Before entering the voting chamber, a polling staff will collect personal pens from the voters and hand over the special pen to mark their vote on the ballot paper.
"When the member comes out of the voting chamber, the special pen will be taken back and the polling staff will return the personal pen," a Commission spokesperson explained the new rule.
While announcing the schedule of the election, the poll panel had made it clear that use of any other pen could lead to invalidation of the vote at the time of counting under the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules, 1974.
These special pens have been procured from Mysore paints and varnish Ltd which supplies indelible ink to the EC.
Dos and don'ts for voters
In another first, the poll watchdog has also prepared special posters carrying dos and don'ts for the voters. It asks them to use only EC-issued pen and warns that no whip or directive can be issued to party members to vote in favour of any candidate. Since it is a secret ballot, the voters should not disclose whom they have voted for.
Green-coloured ballot papers will be there for members of Parliament and pink for MLAs who vote in the election.
(With PTI inputs)