The Prime Minister and his cabinet wield all executive powers at the centre in India, unlike Presidential systems like that in the US.
But the election of India's 14th President on July 19 is not just a token process to select a figurehead.
The President is the head of the Indian state, holding a post that captures the authority of the Constitution – the fundamental law of the land.
In a fractious polity, the President could play a key role in deciding which political formation is called to form a government in 2014 if the Lok Sabha elections two years from now throw up a hung verdict.
All bills passed by Parliament must be signed into law by the President.
The President also has the power to return all bills other than a money bill or a constitutional amendment bill to Parliament for its reconsideration – though she or he can only do so once with each bill.
APJ Abdul Kalam returned the controversial office of profit bill – which saves several MPs from disqualification – in 2006 for Parliament's reconsideration.
Though he eventually signed the bill into law after it was sent to him a second time, Kalam's act embarrassed the government.
The President can also delay signing a bill into law.
Results to the Presidential elections will be declared on July 22.