The BJP will need a near sweep in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections to see an NDA candidate as the next President of India.
Election for a new President is due in July when incumbent Pranab Mukherjee completes his five-year term.
The BJP has an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha and also rules 12 states. But that is not enough given the complex mathematics of a presidential election.
The electoral college to pick a President comprises of all elected MPs and MLAs. Each vote also has a weightage or value depending on the size of the population he or she represents. MPs have the highest value — 708 — for each vote while the value of an MLA’s vote depends on the population of the state.
Uttar Pradesh, which is the most populous state, has higher weightage than north-eastern states.
The value of a UP MLA’s vote — 208 — is the highest while Sikkim has the lowest representational value of eight.
A good show in UP, which has 83,824 votes in the presidential election, is therefore essential for the NDA’s prospects in the presidential polls.
“The NDA, as on date, doesn’t have the numbers to get its own President candidate elected. UP polls will be make-or-break for Narendra Modi for presidential polls and also for many other things. If the BJP loses the polls, Modi’s scheme of things will have to be undone,” CPI(M)’s Lok Sabha leader Md Salim said.
The five states going to the polls — UP, Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur — together have 1,03,756 votes.
The state elections will be held on February 4 and March 8 and the results declared on March 11. “Only after the UP polls, the picture will be clear,” said Bhartruhari Mahtab, BJD’s Lok Sabha leader.
Congress strategist Jairam Ramesh echoed similar sentiments.
“UP polls will decide where the BJP stands in terms of the Presidential race. But it would always be good to select a consensus candidate, rising above partisan politics, for President and vice president,” he said.
At present, the BJP is short by 0.17 million votes and it is impossible to elect its own candidate without any support.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), on the other hand, will need almost 75,000 more votes to win the prestigious election.
In the past, the NDA has seen a split in its ranks when it came to voting for a new President.
This year too, pundits expect a contest unless a consensus evolves.