RSS man at Rashtrapati Bhavan? ‘United opposition’ plans to upset BJP in presidential polls
A grand alliance of all opposition parties at the national level could soon become a reality in order to prevent the BJP’s winning march as well as thwart the saffron party’s efforts towards getting a man of their choice installed at the country’s highest constitutional post of the President of India.
The first such indications came when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the national capital yesterday. It is learnt that the Bihar CM has called for a joint opposition candidate for the July election to the President's post as well as a national alliance to counter the prevailing political scenario.
Speaking to reporters here, JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said that there should be a joint opposition candidate for the top constitutional post and Sonia being the leader of the largest opposition party should take the lead.
Nitish, Tyagi said, has already taken up the matter with leaders of the Left parties.
If any such alliance becomes a reality, the ruling BJP will fall short of the required majority to get its candidate elected for the top job.
As per the statistics, despite the huge wins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the BJP could be short of numbers by about 20,000 to 25,000 votes in the Presidential polls.
How President is elected
The presidential election involves complex mathematics as the electoral college comprises of all elected MPs and MLAs, whose vote has a defined weightage depending on size of the population. Uttar Pradesh, being the most populated state has the highest value per MLA's vote at 208 and Sikkim has the lowest at seven. Every MP's vote carries weightage of 708.
Altogether, the total value of the votes of the MPs and MLAs sum up to 10,98,882. Of this, a candidate needs 50 per cent of the votes to win.
The BJP with 282 Lok Sabha MPs and 56 Rajya Sabha MPs has total weightage of 2,39,304 in the Parliament.
In order to get its nominee elected, the saffron party will have to depend on the support of regional parties like AIADMK and its key ally Shiv Sena.
With a vote share of 25,893 in the electoral college, the Sena is well aware of its importance for the elections. In the 288 member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP has 122 MLAs and claims to have support of 12 more MLAs raising its tally to 134 MLAs, besides 63 MLAs of Sena.
The value of a vote of an MLA in Maharashtra is 175. In terms of MLAs, the total value of BJP led NDA votes is 34,475 (Senas 11025 included). Whereas, the total value of Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) votes at present is 15,575 votes. If the Sena decides to support the Congress led UPA Presidential candidate then its tally rises to 26,600 votes. That leaves the BJP with its own vote share of 23,450 votes only.
As against this, there are 67 MPs from Maharashtra in the Parliament, 48 Lok Sabha MPs and 19 Rajya Sabha MPs. The value of votes of per MP is 708.
The BJP led NDA (including Sena) has total of 52 MPs and its total vote share is 36,816 votes. The Sena has 21 MPs (18 Lok Sabha and 3 Rajya Sabha MPs), with total value of 14868, while the BJP has 23 Lok Sabha and 5 Rajya Sabha MPs that corresponds to total value of 19824.
The Congress-led UPA has 15 MPs in both the Houses of the Parliament. The total value of MP votes of UPA is 10,620. If the Sena ditches BJP and supports the Congress then the UPA tally will rise to 25,488 votes.
The support from Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK, with its 58,984 votes, is also crucial for Modi government to cross the magic figure.
In the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly, the BJP secured win at 312 seats -- a never-before showing by any party in the country's most populous state. The BJP also ousted Congress from power in Uttarakhand by winning 57 of the 70 seats.
Before the results of assembly polls in the five states - Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa - the BJP had a total weightage of 1,02,075 as per the formula from its elected MLAs. The victory in Uttar Pradesh added a value of over 80,000 to the BJP's kitty and a value of about 8,000 would be added from other four states - Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab - whose results were also announced on Saturday.
The BJP 'candidate'
Nitish Kumar, in his meeting with the Congress president, is learnt to have impressed upon her that a defeat of the NDA nominee in the Presidential election will come as a huge morale booster for opposition parties.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also called on Sonia separately yesterday to discuss about the upcoming Presidential election. The CPM has already decided after a thorough discussion in their Politburo that if there is a common Presidential candidate from the Opposition, they would extend support.
While the BJP has made no indications over its choice for the President, opposition parties believe the saffron party could use the numbers -- if they turn out in its favour -- could try and push an RSS man for the top job.
While incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee is believed to be reluctant to enter the fray for another term, India TV had reported that the Modi government was keen on nominating a new face. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and former deputy PM LK Advani were among the list of probable candidates who may get government’s backing.
While Bhagwat had ruled himself out of the election for the post of the President, the Supreme Court’s recent directions to revive criminal conspiracy charges against 89-year-old Advani in the Babri Masjid demolition case may mark an end of road for his ambitions. Chances are bleak that the government will choose to put its weight behind him.
Notably, no RSS member or sympathiser has ever occupied the post of President of India.
The majority of Opposition leaders believe that the alliance, if becomes a reality, can stop the RSS from getting its person elected for the role.
Leaders from the TMC, Congress, RJD, JD(U), DMK, NCP, Samajwadi Party, BSP and Left have dropped ample hints in the past that they would like to put up a tough fight in the presidential election irrespective of the strength in the electoral college.
They also feel that a close contest in July’s election will further dent the BJP’s prospects of winning 2019 general elections.