Numbers favour Ram Nath Kovind for presidential election today

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New Delhi: The election for the next president of India will be held on Monday where National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) candidate Ram Nath Kovind is pitted against opposition nominee Meira Kumar.

The counting of votes will take place on 20 July in New Delhi where all the ballot boxes will be brought from various state capitals. The electorate, comprising elected Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members and members of state assemblies, is tilted in favour of the NDA, but the opposition is still working to seek support of some regional parties in favour of their candidate.

Both Kovind, a former Bihar governor, and Kumar, the former Lok Sabha speaker, have held a series of meetings across states to garner support for their candidature. The tenure of incumbent Pranab Mukherjee comes to an end on 24 July. So far 13 stalwarts, including Mukherjee, have held the post.

The electoral college which elects the president through the system of proportional representation, comprises members of parliament (MPs) and members of state legislative assemblies (MLAs). A total of 4,896 voters—4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs—are eligible to cast their ballot. Members of legislative councils (MLCs) of states are not part of the electoral college.

While the Lok Sabha speaker, an elected member, can vote, the two nominated members in the Lower House from the Anglo-Indian community cannot. Twelve nominated members in Rajya Sabha are also ineligible.

Since the election is through a secret ballot, the parties cannot issue a whip to their members to vote for a particular candidate.

A total of 13 vacancies in Lok Sabha and state assemblies will be filled up after the presidential elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA has 5,37,683 votes, including votes of the Shiv Sena, and the shortage is around 12,000 votes. But the promised support from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the YSR Congress and the likely backing from the factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) could offset the shortfall of the presidential votes by a substantial margin.

In the 2012 elections, Pranab Mukherjee garnered 7,13,763 votes, while Pratibha Patil secured 6,38,116 votes in the 2007 polls. Both Mukherjee and Patil were Congress nominees.

This time, the Lok Sabha secretary general is the returning officer. Last time, it was the secretary general of Rajya Sabha.

A total of 32 polling stations—one in the Parliament House and one each in the state legislative assemblies, have been set up.

Thirty-three observers have been appointed by the Election Commission (EC) to oversee the conduct of the elections. While two observers will be present in the Parliament House, one each will be deployed in the respective state assemblies.

In a fresh development, EC has barred MPs and MLAs who vote to elect the next president from carrying their personal pens inside the voting chamber and will have to mark their ballot with specially- designed marker pens.

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