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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, June 9: On July 21, India will get its 16th President who will succeed the incumbent Ram Nath Kovind. The first citizen of India, Rashtrapati, is the supreme commander of India while also the conscience keeper of the country and the upholder of the Constitution.

The Election Commission of India on Thursday announced the dates for the election of the 16th President. The last date of filing the nomination is June 29.

In another two weeks, people will know the two main contestants who will be fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the joint candidate of the opposition parties, with the likelihood of Congress reaching out to other parties for a consensus candidate.

The term of office of President Kovind is ending on July 24, and as per Article 62 of the Constitution, an election to fill the vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of the outgoing President is required to be completed before the expiration of the term, said the Election Commission of India on Thursday.

Article 324 of the Constitution read with the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952, and the Presidential and Vice–Presidential Elections Rules, 1974 vests the superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of election to the office of the President of India in the Election Commission of India.

Section 4(3) of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952 provides that the notification for election shall be issued on or after the 60th day before the expiration of term of office of the outgoing President.

So, the ECI has essentially given 45 days to complete the process of the Presidential election.

The nominated members of either Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha or Legislative Assemblies of the States are not eligible to be included in the Electoral College and therefore, they are not entitled to participate in the election.

Similarly, members of the Legislative Councils are also not electors for the Presidential election.

The value of votes of the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies and both Houses of Parliament is governed by Article 55(2) of the Constitution.

The total value of votes for MLAs for 16th Presidential Election is 543231. The total value of votes for MPs is 543200. Thus the scale is almost even for the Parliament and the state Assemblies.

“The total value of vote of electors for the Presidential Election, 2022 is 1086431,” said the ECI.

Uttar Pradesh has over 83,000 votes. Maharashtra and Bihar have over 50,000 and 40,000 votes respectively. West Bengal has over 44,000 votes. Tamil Nadu also has over 41,000 votes. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have close to 30,000 votes each.

Thus, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra being ruled by the opposition parties will make the ruling BJP at the Centre to bank on the YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and Biju Janata Dal in Odisha to tilt the scales in its favour.

Mere victory in the Presidential election isn’t enough and the ruling alliance at the Centre will like to seek maximum votes to demonstrate that they have been able to get votes from all across the country for their candidate.

It must be recalled that in the election for the 15th President of India, the BJP had appointed the then Union Minister for Parliamentary affairs M Venkaiah Naidu as the chief campaigner. If that’s the precedent then his successor in the minister Pralhad Joshi should be in the hot seat.

Article 55 (3) of the Constitution provides that the election shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.

In this system, the elector has to mark preferences against the names of the candidates. Preference can be marked in the international form of Indian numerals, in Roman form, or in the form in any recognised Indian languages. Preference has to be marked in figures only and shall not be indicated in words. The elector can mark as many preferences as the number of candidates. While the marking of the first preference is compulsory for the ballot paper to be valid, other preferences are optional.

For marking the vote, the Election Commission will supply particular pens. The pen is given to the electors in the polling station by the designated official when the ballot paper is handed over.

“Electors have to mark the ballot only with this particular pen and not with any other pen. Voting by using any other pen shall lead to invalidation of the vote at the time of counting,” said the ECI.

This norm is also applicable for the election for the Rajya Sabha members.

A nomination paper of a candidate has to be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and by at least other 50 electors as seconders. An elector can subscribe to only one nomination paper of a candidate as either a proposer or a seconder and is governed by Section 5B (5) of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act, 1952.

A candidate can file maximum of four nomination papers. The security deposit for the election is Rs 15,000.

There is no concept of open voting in this election and showing the ballot to anyone under any circumstances in the case of Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections is totally prohibited.

Any violation of the voting procedure entails cancellation of the ballot paper by the Presiding Officer. It is also clarified that political parties cannot issue any whip to their MPs and MLAs in the matter of voting in the Presidential election.

As per section 18 of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952, the offence of ‘bribery’ or ‘undue influence’ as defined in Sections 171B and 171C of IPC, by the returned candidate or any person with the consent of the returned candidate are among the grounds on which the election can be declared void by the Supreme Court in an election petition.


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