In Prez poll, MPs not bound by party whip

Who elects the president?

The president is not elected in a direct election by the people, but by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of Parliament and MLAs of the state legislative assemblies, Delhi and Puducherry . Nominated members do not vote in these elections.

Is the value of every MLA's vote the same?

No. The principle is that the total value of the votes of the Union legislature and state legislatures should be more or less the same. Also, each state must have a value within the total value of votes for all states corresponding to its share in the total population. Hence, a population-based formula is devised to calculate the value of votes. The 84th Constitution Amendment Act, 2001 states that until the relevant figures for the first census after 2026 are published, the population of states for calculating the value of votes in presidential election shall be the figures from the 1971 census. Hence, the value of votes of a particular state is calculated by dividing its 1971 population by the number of elected seats in the state assembly multiplied by thousand (population(no of MLAx1000). For instance the value of a Delhi MLA's vote is 58 which is calculated on the basis of the NCT's 40.7 lakh population in 1971and 70 seats in the legislative assembly . In a similar way , the value of the vote of an UP MLA is 208, the highest in the country , while it is 7 for Sikkim, the lowest.

How is the value of MP votes calculated?

The total value of these state votes is added and then divided by the number of elected members in both Lok Sabha (543) and Rajya Sabha (233) and rounded off to the nearest whole number.

This puts the value of each MP's vote at 708. There are all told 4,896 electors consisting of 776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs. The total value of votes of MPs is 5,49,408, while for the 4,120 MLAs it is 5,49,474 (the numbers are slightly different because of rounding off the decimals). One can see that the Constitution seeks to ensure that the neither the Union nor the states will have an advantage here. This is done because apart from being the ceremonial head of state, the president is responsible for appointing the prime minister. In a situation when no party or coalition gets a clear majority , it is the president who exercises his or her discretion and this can be crucial.

How is the voting done?

Members of the electoral college can vote according to their conscience and are not bound by party whips. The voting is also by secret ballot. The ballot pa per does not have any party symbol. It has two columns, the first containing the name of the candidate and the second where the elector has to write hisher preference.

The number `1' means first preference and so on. In the first round of counting, a candidate has to get more than half of the total first preference votes polled. In a situation in which no candidate gets this, the returning officer excludes the candidate with the lowest first preference votes and distributes his votes among the remaining candidates on the basis of second preference.The process continues until someone reaches the quota.

Who is eligible to contest the presidential election?

Any citizen of India over the age of 35 who is qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha can contest presidential elections. Candidates cannot hold any office of profit under the Centre or states.

A candidate's nomination paper must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and another 50 as seconders. An elector can subscribe to the nomination of only one candidate as proposer or seconder. If heshe has signed the nominations of two candidates, the signature for the first set of papers will be valid while the second becomes inoperative.

Until the relevant figures for the first census after 2026 are published, the population of states for calculating the value of votes in presidential election shall be the figures from the 1971 census