BJP closes electoral college gap, Modi keeps suspense alive over next President

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keeping his cards close to his chest as speculation swirls about India’s next President even as the BJP has narrowed the gap in the electoral college.
File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee in the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan.(PTI)
File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee in the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan.(PTI)
Updated on Mar 14, 2017 09:42 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByKumar Uttam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inched closer to getting a person of his choice as the country’s next President. A three-fourth majority in Uttar Pradesh fills much of the deficit that the BJP had to get its nominee occupy the Raisina Hils. Will that cheer up BJP’s two senior leaders, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who now have a largely ceremonial role in the party’s Margdarshak Mandal?

Advani and Joshi, both, were Modi’s mentors in Delhi and Ahmedabad. During his initial days in Delhi, Modi would spend most of his evening taking lessons from Joshi. When Joshi unfurled the tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk in 1992, he had Modi by his side. It was Modi’s first tryst with the limelight.

The credit to send Modi to Gujarat to take over as chief minster goes to Advani who also stood by him in his days of crisis.

Will Modi now offer guru dakshina to his mentors? BJP leaders have their fingers crossed but there is underlying feeling that it would be unlikely. “Lagta nahi hai” is the common refrain of BJP leaders on the possibility of the two veterans becoming country’s President and Vice- President.

Election for a new President is due in July when Pranab Mukherjee completes his five-year term. Vice-President Hamid Ansari ends his second term in August.

Many names and theories are doing the rounds in BJP circles about who will occupy the top two seats.

From a Dalit to a woman and a tribal to a RSS choice; the guessing game is far from over.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu, Bihar governor Ramnath Kovid, Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and nominated Rajya Sabha member Narendra Jadhav - BJP leaders’ guess list is just growing. Some don’t even rule out a second term to incumbent Pranab Mukherjee.

“Stop guessing. Modi will surprise you all with his choice for the two posts,” a senior cabinet minister said.

With the BJP and its ally Apna Dal winning 321 of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 57 of the 70 seats in Uttarakhand, 30 seats in Manipur (with allies) and 13 seats in Goa, the NDA has dramatically reduced its gap to the halfway mark of 549442 votes in the electoral college.

The alliance is now short of just 25,354 votes to get its own candidate as the next President.

The total strength of the electoral college that elects the President is 10,98,882 votes.

Before Saturday’s result, the NDA was short of 79,274 votes. But BJP’s clean sweep in UP has given the party an undeniable edge. While the total votes of BJP in the electoral college stand at 433,182, along with its allies its number has increased to 524088.

The electoral college comprises all elected MPs and MLAs. Votes of nominated members are not counted.

Each vote has a value depending on the size of the population an elected member 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.

The five states of UP, Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur have altogether 1,03,756 votes. UP, the most populous state in the country, alone has 83, 824 votes.

The value of a UP MLA’s vote is 208. With the alliance winning 321 seats, its strength in the electoral college has shot up to 66, 560. In the outgoing UP assembly, the BJP with 41 MLAs had just 8528 votes.

Similarly, BJPs votes have gone up in Uttarakhand to 3648 from 1728. The party’s debut in Manipur with 21 seats has also come as an advantage. NDA’s vote in Manipur stands at 540. In the outgoing assembly, it did not have a single MLA.

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