The state assembly elections of UP, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab, and Goa are over and there is some time before election fever grips the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. There is one more major election coming up this summer that will keep the people of India excited.
President Pranab Mukherjee is the 13th President of India. He was elected on July 22, 2012, and was sworn in three days later (July 25, 2012). President Mukherjee’s term ends on July 25, 2017. Before this date, Presidential elections will be held in the country and the next President will be elected. President Mukherjee may also run for a second term but this looks highly unlikely.
BJP’s Advantage in the Electoral College
The President of India, the country’s first citizen, is elected by an Electoral College. This college consists of members of both houses of parliament – the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha along with the elected members of the state assemblies (all 29 states). The elected members of the assemblies of national capital territory of Delhi and the union territory of Puducherry also form part of the Electoral College.
As of now, the Electoral College that is set to elect the President is made up of 776 Members of Parliament (both houses) and 4,120 Members of State Legislative Assembly. The values of the votes cast are all not equal and various formulae are used to ensure parity of the votes by MLAs and MPs.
Going by the current population of the various states, the total strength of Electoral College adds up to 10,98,882 votes. Winning the UP and Uttarakhand state legislative assembly elections has handed a big advantage to the BJP, when it comes to putting forth a presidential candidate.
UP is one of the most populated states of the country and hence the value of its MLA vote is valued at 209, more than other states. The party also holds majority MLAs in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra, while close ally TDP holds sway over Andhra Pradesh. The BJP-led NDA is short of the halfway mark (5,49,442 votes) by merely 17,488 votes.
Mobilising the support of the AIADMK and the BJD will easily see BJP’s presidential candidate through.
Who Will Be BJP’s Presidential Candidate?
That is the question the country is seeking an answer to. Let’s look at some of the probable candidates –
Murli Manohar Joshi – Veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi seems to be the leading favourite. Eighty-three year old Joshi has been associated with the RSS since 1944. He became the BJP president in the year 1991 and remained in the position till 1993. He was an important member of the central government during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in 1996, 1998, and again in 1999.
Sushma Swaraj – External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is another leading contender for the president’s office. She has an exceptional record of having been chosen as MP for seven times. She also held the Chief Minister of Delhi’s office for a short while in 1998.
Having joined the BJP in the late ’70s, Swaraj has a distinguished record of being outspoken. She has endeared herself to the people of India due to her NRI outreach. Her health has been a matter of concern of late, though.
LK Advani – “Iron Man” LK Advani is another senior BJP politician who is likely to be seriously considered for the president’s office. Prior to Narendra Modi’s candidature, it was assumed that LK Advani would be BJP’s PM candidate for the 2014 elections.
Advani has previously held many important portfolios, including the Home Ministry between 1998 and 2004, and has served as Deputy Prime Minister between 2002 and 2004 (when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was PM).
Sumitra Mahajan – Another senior politician from the BJP who may be considered is the current Lok Sabha speaker, Sumitra Mahajan. Not only is she the longest serving woman member of the house, she is highly regarded across parties for her keen intellect and commands respect.
Draupadi Murmu – Another likely candidate, news reports say, is the incumbent Governor of Jharkhand, Draupadi Murmu. Coming from Mayurbhanj in Odisha, Murmu became the first woman Governor of Jharkhand.