Article 52 states that there shall be a President of India. The executive powers of the Union shall be vested in the President. He, as the head of a state, symbolizes the nation. In some democratic systems, the head of the state is also the head of the government and, therefore, he will also be the head of the political executive. The US Presidency represents this form. In Britain, the monarch is the symbolic head, representing the British nation. The powers of the Government are vested in the political office of the Prime Minister. In Indian Parliamentary democracy we have adopted the latter form. The President of India is the first citizen and represents the Indian nation and does not, therefore, belong to any particular political party. He is elected by the representatives of the people through an Electoral College.
Details of Article 54
Article 54 of the constitution says:
“The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of –
(a) The elected members of both Houses of Parliament and
(b) The elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States (including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Pondicherry vide the Constitution 70th amendment Act, 1992).”
Thus in the election of the President the citizens play no direct part and he is elected indirectly by the representatives or the people, like the American President but no special electoral college is elected, as in the case of America. Another point of difference that may be noted is that the election of the President of India is by the system of proportional representation, by the single transferable vote, as provided by Article 55(3) of the Constitution, while the American President is elected by the straight vote system.
Procedure for the Election of the President
The Constitution provides for the election of the President by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The Constitution also provides for weighting of votes in the election of the President based on two fundamental principles. First, to secure as far as possible, uniformity in the scale of representation of different States of the Union, which emphasizes the similarity in the status of the States of the Union. And secondly, to secure parity between the States as a whole and the Union in order to work up the idea of federal compact. For the purpose of securing such uniformity and parity the following method is laid down. this method makes the Presidential election complicated.
In order to secure uniformity in the scale of representation of the different States it is provided that every elected member of the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) of a State has to cast as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the State by the total number of elected members of the Assembly, and if, after taking the said multiples of one thousand, the remainder is not less than five hundred, the votes of each member referred to above are further increased by one. To put it in simpler words, each member of the Electoral College who is a member of a State Legislative Assembly will have a number of votes calculated as follows:
Total Population of the State Divided by 1000
Total number of elected members in the Legislative Assembly.
Fractions exceeding one half being counted as one.
Each elected member of either House of Parliament shall have such number of votes as may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States under sub-clauses (a) and (b) by the total number of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, fractions exceeding one-half being counted as one and other fractions being disregarded.
Total number of votes assigned to the elected members of the State Assemblies
Total number of elected members of both Houses of the Parliament
Fractions exceeding one-half being counted as one.
For the Presidential election, the population of a State is taken to be the population at the last preceding census.
Article 55(3) of Indian Constitution requires that the President should be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
The underlying principle of proportional representation is to prevent the exclusion of minorities from the benefits of the State, and to give each minority group an effective share in the political life. The aim of proportional representation is to give every division of opinion among electors corresponding representation in national or local assemblies. In the ordinary mode of election known as “straight voting system”, what happens is that a candidate getting the support of the numerically largest group is elected, although the combined strength of all other candidates representing different other parties may far out-number his supporters. The result is that the elected candidate cannot be said to represent the opinion of the majority of the electorate as a whole.
How the Single Transferable Vote System Works?
The best known form of Proportional Representation is that of the “Single Transferable Vote”, which means that each elector has only one vote, irrespective of the number of seats to be filled up. For instance, if there are six seats to be filled up, the elector does not cast six votes but indicates six successive preferences, by marking his first preference and the succeeding preferences with the appropriate numerals against the name of candidates printed on his ballot paper.
Quota of Votes
In the ordinary straight voting system a candidate who secures the highest number of votes is declared elected, while under the Proportional Representation system any member who secures the necessary quota of votes is declared elected. There are several ways of finding out the quota, but the most common method is to divide the total number of valid votes cast by the total number of seats in the constituency plus one and add one to the quotient. The formula may be represented as follows:
Total number of valid votes cast
Quota = ———————————————————– +1
Total number of seats to be filled +1
Supposing there are 100 valid voting papers and four seats are to be filled up. In order, therefore, to determine the quota 100 is divided by 4 plus 1, i.e. 5 and the quotient arrived at, namely 20, is increased by one so that the quota is 21. After the quota is fixed, any candidate whose total number of first preference votes is equal to or exceeds the quota is forthwith declared elected.
Distribution of Surplus Votes
Each successful candidate’s surplus votes of first preferences which are now of no use to him, are transferred to other candidates proportionately to the second preferences indicated on the whole of his papers (except that the second preferences shown for any other candidate already elected are ignored and the third preferences on those papers taken instead). The point is that every vote shall be made effective and not allowed to go waste, while under the ordinary system of representation, the votes of many electors are of no use.
Elimination of the Bottom Candidate
If all the seats are filled upon this second count, the election is completed. But if all the required number of candidates do not reach the quota by the distribution of surplus first preferences votes of the candidates who have received more than the quota, the process is reversed by dropping out the candidate who has the least number of first preferences. The whole of his votes are transferred to the other not yet elected candidates in accordance with the next available preferences shown on his papers (next available means next excluding candidates already elected). If this does not suffice to fill the remaining seat or seats, the process is repeated by the exclusion of the candidate now at the bottom of polls and the transfer of his votes as a whole in accordance with the next available preferences shown on his papers. Eventually in this way all seats are filled.
Irrespective of the fact that a number of seats may have to be filled, this system postulates one vote for each voter with the reservation that this single vote is transferred to other candidates. This is the reason why this system is known as “single transferable vote system.”
The question of proportional representation in one sense can arise only in a multiple-member constituency when there are several seats to be filled up. In that case, the surplus votes are transferred to or distributed amongst the different candidates in order to get the number of members required to be elected, according to the procedure indicated above. Under the Constitution of India members of the Upper House of Parliament and of the State Legislature are elected according to the above formula.
How Proportional Representation Works in the Election of the Indian President
In the case of the election of the President and the Vice-President there is, however, only one member to be elected. In this case, the Government of India has, nevertheless, prescribed the manner in which the proportional representation is to work. The method prescribed is generally known as the “alternative vote” in a single-member constituency.
Presidential elections: 2012
The 14th indirect presidential election will be held in India on 19th July, 2012 to elect the 13th president of India. The last date for filing nominations is 30th June, while the counting of votes is set for 22 July 2012.
Although no nominations have been filed, various names have been speculated by the Indian media and politicians. Incumbent Finance Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari were among the names speculated. Opinion polls have shown that the public prefers former President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam to hold the post once again, which was supported by the BJP, Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party. India Today suggested there were 14 possible candidates:
- Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister
- Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister
- Hamid Ansari, Vice President
- A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former President
- Gopal Krishna Gandhi, former Governor of West Bengal and grandson of Mohandas Gandhi
- Meira Kumar, Speaker of the Lok Sabha
- Somnath Chatterjee, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha
- A. K. Antony, Defense Minister
- Karan Singh, Member of Rajya Sabha
- S. Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner
- Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab
- Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader
- Mohsina Kidwai, Member of Rajya Sabha
Among all, Pranab Mukherjee is supported by many including UPA, RJD, SP, BSP, NDA ALLIES(SS AND JDU), making it 53.2 percentage. Now that Abdul kalam has withdrawn, the major competitor for Pranab Mukherjee remains P.A.Sangma with parties such as BJP, SAD, BJD, AIADMK supporting him, making it 27.6 percent. Though Abdul Kalam has been the most popular choice of masses, Sangma holds the second position, if not by the whole of India,but at least by those parts of India occupied by tribes. He is considered to represent Indian Tribes as a whole.
Though presidential elections are supposed to remain distant from “politics”, there’s been a lot of “politics” happening around the same!