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Friday, June 22, 2012

Understanding Indian Presidential Election - Sangma Vs Pranab

19th July 2012 – the 14th Presidential Election - The race has already begun and it looks Pranabda is way ahead of opponents who have had every possible problem in finding out a rival to match – only the political calculations not the stature !! – can you immediately think of the first casualty of this race to the Indian President ? – a clue it is the youngest minister of the present cabinet.   Things are not what they look like – understanding Indian politics is perhaps tougher than understanding Maths or Economics.  This is more complex considering the fact that it is an indirect election with total of 1098882 votes in the fray……… see the table towards the end of this post to understand this maths.    One might tend to think that the President does not wield enormous powers but given the reality of hung Parliaments,  the office of the President becomes pivotal in interpreting the Constitution and abiding by well-established political norms. 

The race has already split the Communists, NCP  and JD.   The term of office of Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India, ends on 24th July, 2012. An election to fill the vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of the outgoing President shall need to be completed before the expiration of her term.  This is not a direct election and the  President is elected by the members of the Electoral College consisting of : elected members of both Houses of Parliament, and;  elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all States. 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. 

The first to get into the race was former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma supported by AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal.  On the face of it, and given the arithmetic of the electoral college, PA Sangma stands no chance of even putting up a decent fight against Pranab Mukherjee.  He isn’t also campaigning on any inspirational platform. Beyond pitching his identity as a Scheduled Tribe representative, he has thus far offered no persuasive reason to account for why he might make a better President than Mukherjee.  The principal opposition party, BJP  may have eventually come around to backing Sangma’s candidature,  but their political instincts have not been agile. 

Pranab may eventually win without a great fight but his 40 years political career is not exceptional beyond scrutiny.  Old timers recall his record of excesses during the infamous Emergency imposed in June 1975 by Indira Gandhi– for which Mukherjee was hauled up by the Shah Commission of Inquiry.  DMK welcomed the nomination of Pranab Mukherjee  and  Karunanidhi sent a letter to Ms. Gandhi congratulating her on her choice and another to Mr. Mukherjee wishing him success. Sadly, the patriarch, made a cheeky quip stating that in Tamil, the word ‘Kalam' also meant ‘kalagam' (that roughly translates as ‘causing confusion') – unbecoming to the stature of Hon’ble APJ Abdul Kalam, who subsequently withdrew himself from the race, not because of this remark though. 

Sangma’s candidature has split the NCP which was formed in May 1999  by Sharad Pawar, P. A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar after they were expelled from the Indian National Congress -  for disputing the right of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi to lead the party – still the same NCP was part of ruling alliance when it came to power sharing in the 15th Lok Sabha.

PA Sangma’s daughter - Agatha K. Sangma (born 1980) is a Member of Parliament of India (MP), and part of the 15th Lok Sabha. She represents the Tura constituency of Meghalaya state, and won the Indian parliamentary elections as a candidate of the Nationalist Congress Party(NCP). Presently she is youngest Minister of State in the current Cabinet holding the portfolio of Minister of State for rural development.  With Sangma in the fray for Presidential elections, she might be forced to give up the post.  In the meeting  of the NCP Parliamentary Board yesterday to discuss the Presidential poll,  Agatha Sangma was conspicuous by her absence.  The NCP Parliamentary Board decided to instruct all the party MPs and MLAs to vote for UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee.  The spokesperson stated that  Agatha had not made any statement in support of her father’s presidential bid after it was pointed out by Pawar that she, as the NCP representative in the Union Ministry, has to abide by the party directive !!!

The value of votes cast by elected members of State Legislative assemblies and both houses of Parliament is decided as per provisions of article 55(2) of the Constitution of India.  The value of a MLA vote = Total Population of the State / Total no. of elected members X 1000.  In other words, the value of a MLA vote is no. of thousands of people represented by him.   Here is the illustrative table showing the value of vote
MLA Votes
Andhra Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
MLA Votes / All States


MP Votes / All States

Lok Sabha 543
Rajya Sabha 233

With regards – S. Sampathkumar                                                    22nd June 2012 


  1. Good analysis. I never knew how that each vote has a differential value depending on the State - Neeraj

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  4. do the MPS and MLAs, some of whom are illiterates know the value of their votes - Sangli

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