Podcast: How does India choose its President?

India will vote for its 15th president today, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Droupadi M...

India will vote for its 15th president today, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Droupadi Murmu having a clear edge over Opposition’s Yashwant Sinha.

Polling will take place between 10 am and 5 pm in Parliament House and state legislative Assemblies. The counting of the votes will take place on 21 July and the next President of India will take on 25 July, a day after Ram Nath Kovind's tenure ends.

Here’s what you need to know about how the president is elected.

First, let’s begin with the fact that the president is head of state and the supreme commander of the armed forces. Unlike the prime minister, who is directly elected by the people, the president is chosen indirectly – that is by the representatives of the people.

Also, the presidential candidate must be a citizen of India and the age of 35. He or she must be eligible to be a member of the Lok Sabha.

Who chooses the president?

  • The president is chosen by members of the electoral college:
  • Members of the Lok Sabha
  • Members of the Rajya Sabha
  • Members of state legislative Assemblies as well as Delhi and Puducherry.

It is important to note that nominated members of the Houses are ineligible to vote. The Constitution mandates voting via secret ballot.

Members are also free to cross-vote: that is cast ballots across party lines.

How is voting conducted?

Voting for the presidential polls is held under the proportional representation principle with the single transferable vote (STV) system.

Members must list the different candidates in order of preference.

How is weightage assigned?

The value of electoral college is 10,86,431 votes. The value of the vote of each elector (MP/MLA) is predetermined. For each MP, the value is fixed at 708.

This time, however, the value of the vote of a Member of Parliament is likely to go down to 700 from 708 in the presidential polls scheduled in July due to the absence of a legislative assembly in Jammu and Kashmir, as per PTI.

For an MLA, this value is determined by a formula involving the population (based on the 1971 Census) of the state he/she represents. Hence, the value differs from state to state.

So how does a candidate win?

A candidate wins once he or she achieves "50 percent of valid votes polled +1" (quota) of the first preference votes cast.

‘Fully geared’

"Election Commission fully geared to conduct election for the post of President of India in free and fair way," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar told media today.

The CEC said those in preventative detention can vote and those in jail can vote if they are granted parole.

The election body said that all COVID-related protocols must be followed during voting and counting for presidential election.

Nominations for presidential election will begin on 15 June and the last date for filing nominations is 29 June. Nominations filed will be scrutinised on 30 June, while the last date for withdrawal of nominations is 2 July.

CEC Rajiv Kumar said that the nomination papers have to be delivered in Delhi and need at least 50 members of electoral college as proposers and another 50 as seconders.

With inputs from agencies

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