It seems like the election season just won’t stop anytime soon in India. Ever since the general elections, the country has seen a range of other elections, all scheduled one after the other. While the last big elections were more than a couple months ago, smaller ones like the Delhi & Maharashtra Municipal Elections were closer than those. While countrymen move out of the hangover of those elections, we are being driven to the next one – Presidential Elections.
However, this is one election where the general public can simply wait & watch. The Presidential Election is quite different to any other elections held in the country. In almost every other election, the public votes for a leader and has a direct link to the government chosen. However, in the Presidential Elections, the public is not given the power to vote. Only the votes of MLAs of all states, the MLAs of the union territories of Delhi & Puducherry and sitting MPs of both the houses are allowed to vote. The votes of such leaders are given different values. To secure the post, a candidate must secure atleast 50% of the value of the votes combined.
The Mathematics of the President’s seat
The value of an MLA’s vote is calculated by dividing the population of the corresponding state with the number of MLAs in the state times 1000. Further, an MP’s vote value is calculated by dividing the value of all his state’s MLA’s votes by the total number of MPs.
As updated by the last state elections, none of the two big coalitions have reached a majority mark yet. While the National Democratic Alliance has 526,174 votes, the UPA has mere 210,674 votes. The total value of the Electoral College is 1,098,903 votes. The halfway mark is thus at 549,452. As the figures show, none of the two big coalitions reach the halfway mark needed to elect a president of their choice. While the government lacks barely 23,278 votes, the Opposition is far away behind.
The percentage of votes held by others and independent parties that have aligned with neither of the two as of yet stands at 9%. Southern giant AIADMK holds 5% voting share while Biju Janta Dal has 3% share.
Looking at these numbers and assuming that NDA allies will support BJP, achieving that short gap of 23,278 votes will not be a very difficult ride for BJP. In case where NDA allies decide not to side with BJP, then BJP will fall short by 1,15,896 votes. That’s where parties like AIADMK & BJD may get to decide whether they will provide a smooth road or speed-breakers to BJP.
The Independent Issue
AIADMK has been busy in an internal tussle for the past few months. The party is divided into two factions – one led by O. Pannerselvam & the other led by Sasikala. This is exactly the reason why the party has not yet come out in favour of any of the two sides. AIADMK has not had a consistent history of siding with one of the two bigwigs. Hence, it cannot be said who the party would choose as of now.
Assuming AIADMK sides with the Opposition, PM Modi still has a chance if he can get Orissa’s BJD to side with them. However, relations between BJP & BJD have not been at an all time high. In March, tensions arose when a BJD leader, Tathagata Satpathy alleged that BJP was trying to breakup BJD. The chances of BJD siding with the government are pretty thin as of now. It would be advisable for Amit Shah to focus on consolidating the AIADMK vote.
In another scenario, if none of the above two parties’ side with the government, it might spell trouble for them. In such a case, the share of Opposition will significantly increase and there could be a tight race to the finish. Consequently, the spotlight will be on the smaller parties like TSR, AAP & INLD.
However, none of these parties have a very cordial relation with the government. TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samiti) has been at loggerheads with Amit Shah & Telangana BJP for a while now. AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) has been consistently performing on the principle of opposing the government, no matter which government it is. Though INLD has been in league with NDA for a long time but with the other parties on UPA’s side, their votes might be not relevant.
The Opposition’s choice
As far as the Opposition goes, almost all parties aligned with the UPA have expressed their support openly. While Mamata Banerjee was against the UPA in the last presidential elections, she will be seen supporting them this time around. Mayawati has already declared a mahagathbandhan against BJP. And even after the defeat in the UP Elections, the Samajwadi Party is also expected to easily align with Congress.
However, even after declaring to agree on a common name, it seems the Opposition parties have not yet reached a consensus. Various names being in the run-up include Sushilkumar Shinde and Meira Kumar. MS Swaminathan is another name being rumoured in the race. It is said that for a name like Meira Kumar, even the undecided parties like AIADMK & BJD could join hands with UPA.
Shiv Sena – The chink in NDA’s armour
Sharad Pawar was one candidate who would have brought down the government votes by a huge margin. This was because Shiv Sena, a major NDA ally would support him for Maratha Power, the same way they did with Pratibha Patil.
Shiv Sena voted for the UPA’s choice in the last two Presidential Elections. It was being seen that it would side with UPA again for Sharad Pawar. However, Sharad Pawar has personally said that he is not aiming for the post just yet. That brings the doubt levels regarding Shiv Sena way low. However, with Shiv Sena, it’s always difficult to assume. The party thrives on Batman’s principles of theatricality & deception.
The Government’s choice
All this being said, it is time to assume the most probable of scenarios – the NDA gaining a majority. As explained above, the NDA basically needs just AIADMK to side with them. With a few talks and handshakes, it might not be very difficult for Amit Shah to get them on his side. Same goes for BJD, who, if Shah is able to seduce them, will act as a backup if AIADMK backs out at the last minute.
NDA is out with its choice. Before a name was declared, Shiv Sena had put in RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s name in the mix. However, this offer has been refused by Amit Shah & Bhagwat himself. With Ram Nath Kovind as their Presidential Nominee, NDA has all its card spread open on the table.
. . .
All in all, it would seem that BJP might just win another election. However, the politics in India have never failed to surprise. The surprises in the last 3 years have been favourable to the BJP. But these were situations where BJP’s win was in fact a surprise. However, could it be that the surprise pattern continues and gives the shock to BJP this time around? We’ll just have to wait and watch.