From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Election of the President
Mains level : Read the attached story
The presidential polls are expected to be held in July to decide on the successor of President Ram Nath Kovind, who will complete his term on July 24, 2022.
The President of India
- The President of India is recognised as the first citizen of the country and the head of the state.
- The elected President of India is a part of the Union Executive along with several other members of the parliament including the Prime Minister, Attorney-General of India and the Vice – president.
Electing the President
- The provisions of the election of the President are laid down in Article 54 of the Constitution of India.
- The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952 led to the establishment of this Constitutional provision.
Qualifications to become the President of India
The qualification of be the President of India are given below:
- He/ She must be an Indian citizen
- A person must have completed the age of 35.
- A person must be qualified for election as a member of the House of the People.
- Must not hold a government (central or state) office of profit
- A person is eligible for election as President if he/she is holding the office of President or Vice-President.
Actual course of election
- The President of India is elected indirectly by an Electoral College following the system of proportional representation utilizing a single transferable vote system and secret ballots.
- MPs and MLAs vote based on parity and uniformity values.
Electoral College composition-
(1) Legislative Assemblies of the States:
- According to the provision of Article 333, every state’s Legislative Assembly must consist of not less than 60 members but not more than 500 members.
(2) Council of States:
- 12 members are nominated by the President of India based on skills or knowledge in literature, arts, science, and social service to act as the members of the Council of States.
- In total, 238 represent act as representatives from both the States and Union Territories.
(2) House of the People:
- The composition of the House of People consists of 530 members (no exceeding) from the state territorial constituencies.
- They are elected through direct election.
- The President further elects 20 more members (no exceeding) from the Union Territories.
Uniformity in the scale of representation of states
To maintain the proportionality between the values of the votes, the following formula is used:
Value of vote of an MLA= total no. of the population of the particular state/ number of elected MLAs of that state divided by 1000.
Single vote system
- During the presidential election, one voter can cast only one vote.
- While the MLAs vote may vary state to state, the MPs vote always remain constant.
MPs and MLAs vote balance
- The number of the total value of the MPs votes must equal the total value of the MLAs to maintain the State and the Union balance.
- The candidate reaching the winning quota or exceeding it is the winner.
- The formula sued is ‘Winning quota total number of poll/ no.of seats + 1’.
- During the presidential election, the voter casts his vote in favor of his first preferred candidate.
- However, in case the first preference candidate does not touch the winning quota, the vote automatically goes to the second preference.
- The first preferred candidate with the lowest vote is eliminated and the votes in his/her favor are transferred to the remaining candidates.
Why need Proportional representation?
- The President of India is elected through proportional representation using the means of the single transferable vote (Article 55(3)).
- It allows the independent candidates and minority parties to have the chance of representation.
- It allows the practice of coalition with many voters under one government.
- This system ensures that candidates who are elected don’t represent the majority of the electorate’s opinion.
Why is President indirectly elected?
If Presidents were to be elected directly, it would become very complicated.
- It would, in fact, be a disaster because the public doesn’t have the absolute clarity of how the president-ship runs or if the candidate fits the profile of a president.
- Another reason why the direct election system isn’t favorable is that the candidate running for the president’s profile will have to campaign around the country with the aid of a political party.
- And, this will result in a massive political instability.
- Moreover, it would be difficult and impossible for the government to hand out election machinery (given the vast population of India).
- This will cost the government financially, and may end up affecting the economy as well.
- The indirect election system is a respectable system for the First Man of India (rightly deserving).
- The system/method of indirect electing of the president also allows the states to maintain neutrality and minimize hostility.