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How India's presidency works

india Updated: Jul 19, 2007 11:46 IST

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India holds an election for a new president on Thursday. Here are some key facts about the office.

* The president is elected to a five-year term by an electoral college consisting of members of both the houses of parliament and the state legislative assemblies. The winner of Thursday's vote will be announced on Saturday.

* The presidency, the titular head of state, is essentially a ceremonial power. Executive power in India is exercised by the prime minister and the cabinet.

* The president does have some discretionary powers in the appointment of the government, especially when no party wins a majority in parliamentary elections. He or she can invite the political alliance most likely to provide a stable government in the case of a hung parliament.

* The president can also send back some parliamentary bills for reconsideration. But the president cannot return the bill if parliament sends it for his assent for a second time.

* Incumbent A P J Abdul Kalam in 2006 returned for reconsideration a bill to prevent the disqualification of members of parliament holding "offices of profit". He signed it into law after parliament passed the bill again without changes.