How India elects its President

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The Presidential Palace (Rashtrapati Bhavan) in New Delhi covers an area of 5 acres on a 330-acre estate. This mansion has 340 rooms spread over four floors, 2.5 kilometres of corridors and 190 acres of garden area.

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Auckland, July 24, 2022

India will witness its 15th president taking office tomorrow, July 25, 2022.

Droupadi Murmu will be the youngest person (64) to occupy the post and the second woman in the history of India’s Republic since 1950.

Every five years, a debate arises as to the importance or otherwise of the post of President.

Bhimrao Ambedkar, who chaired the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India said that under the Constitution that was drafted, “The President occupies the same position as the King under the English Constitution. He is the Head of the State but not of the Executive. He represents the Nation but does not rule the Nation. He is the symbol of the Nation. His place in the administration is that of a ceremonial device on a seal by which the nation’s decisions are made known.

The primary duty of the President is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law of India as made part of their oath. The incumbent is the Common Head of all independent constitutional entities. All their actions, recommendations and supervisory powers over the executive and legislative entities of India shall be used in accordance to uphold the constitution. There is no bar on the actions of the president to contest in a court of law.

Electing the President

The President is chosen by an Electoral College consisting of the elected members of both houses of parliament (MPs), the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies (Vidhan Sabha) of all States and the elected members of the legislative assemblies (MLAs) of union territories with legislatures. The election process of the President is a more extensive process than that of the Prime Minister who is also elected indirectly (elected by the members of the majority party in the Lok Sabha). The President is elected extensively by the members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state legislative assemblies in a secret ballot procedure.

The nomination of a candidate for election to the office of the President must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders. Each candidate has to make a security deposit of ₹15,000 (about $300) at the Reserve Bank of India. The security deposit is liable to be forfeited in case the candidate fails to secure one-sixth of the votes polled.

The Voting Method

The election is held in accordance with the system of Proportional Representation through the Instant-Runoff Voting method. The voting takes place by a secret ballot system.

Each elector casts a different number of votes. The general principle is that the total number of votes cast by Members of parliament equals the total number of votes cast by State Legislators. Also, legislators from larger states cast more votes than those from smaller states. Finally, the number of legislators in state matters; if a state has few legislators, then each legislator has more votes; if a state has many legislators, then each legislator has fewer votes.

The actual calculation for votes cast by a particular state is calculated by dividing the state’s population by 1000, which is divided again by the number of legislators from the State voting in the electoral college. This number is the number of votes per legislator in a given state. Every elected member of the Parliament enjoys the same number of votes, which may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of legislative assemblies by the total number of elected representatives of the parliament.

Although Indian Presidential elections involve actual voting by MPs and MLAs, they tend to vote for the candidate supported by their respective parties.

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