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Draupadi Murmu vs Yashwant Sinha for next president| Here’s how numbers add up

With around 5,26,420 votes in its kitty, the NDA is around 1 percentage point away from the 50 percent vote it requires for its candidate to win the presidential election. The NDA candidate is expected to sail through the vote with the support of the BJD and YSR Congress.

June 24, 2022 / 06:46 AM IST
File image of Draupadi Murmu meeting PM Modi

File image of Draupadi Murmu meeting PM Modi


The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has picked Draupadi Murmu, a former governor of Jharkhand and a prominent politician from Odisha's tribal community, as its candidate for the presidential election.

Murmu, 64, will be up against former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, 84, the Opposition's candidate in the July 18 election, which will be followed by vote-counting on July 21. The term of President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 24

Electoral College

The President is elected by an electoral college consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of states and the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.

READ | Explained: How is the President of India elected?

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Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, announcing the poll schedule on June 10, said the electoral college has 776 members of Parliament (543 Lok Sabha MPs, 233 Rajya Sabha MPs), and 4,033 members of state/UT legislative assemblies.

The value of the electoral college is 1,086,431 votes. This includes 5,43,200 of MPs and 5,43,231 of MLAs.

The value of the vote of each elector (MP/MLA) is predetermined. For each MP, the value is fixed at 708.  This time, however, the value of the vote of an MP is likely to go down to 700 from 708 due to the absence of a legislative assembly in Jammu and Kashmir.

For an MLA, this value is determined by a formula involving the population (based on the 1971 Census) of the state he/she represents. Hence, the value differs from state to state.

For example, each MLA from Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state, carries the highest value of 208 among all states. The 403 Uttar Pradesh MLAs together have a total value of 83,824. The 80 MPs from the state have a total vote value of 56,640, taking the overall value of votes of MPs and MLAs from the state to 140,000, giving them nearly 12.7 percent weightage.

Among smaller states such as Punjab, the vote value for an MLA is 118. In Uttarakhand, it is 64, and in Goa, it is 20. Thus, the total value of Punjab is 13,572, Uttarakhand 4,480 and Goa 800.

Also, read | BJP-led NDA names Draupadi Murmu, former governor of Jharkhand as candidate for presidential polls

After the nominations are filed, the MLAs, in their states and Union territories, and MPs, in Parliament, are given ballot papers (green for MPs and pink for MLAs) to cast their votes.

The Quota

The winner of the presidential election is not the person who wins the maximum votes but the person who gets more votes above a certain quota.

So, after calculating the total value of votes polled by each candidate, the returning officer adds up the value of all valid votes polled. The quota is determined by dividing the sum of valid votes by two and adding one to the quotient.

For example, say, the total value of valid votes polled by all candidates is 100,001. The quota required for getting elected will be calculated by dividing 100,001 by 2 and adding 1 to the quotient, i.e., 50,000.50 + 1 (.50, called the remainder, is ignored). Thus the quota will be 50,000 + 1 = 50,001.

In case no one gets more votes than the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated.

The Numbers

In 2017, in the last Presidential election, NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind won 6,61,278 votes (65.65 percent) while the Congress-led Opposition’s Meira Kumar secured 4,34,241votes (34.35 percent). At that time, the NDA was in power in 21 states.

Since then, the political landscape of the country has altered, especially after March 10, when the results of assembly polls to five states were declared.

Today, the BJP-led NDA is in power in 18 states. Between 2017 and 2022, the BJP and its allies have lost big states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan and smaller ones like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The NDA, however, regained power in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

Also, read | Opposition parties unite to pick Yashwant Sinha as presidential nominee

The BJP has lost allies like the Telugu Desam Party, Shiv Sena, and the Akali Da. The Janata Dal (United), however, is back in the NDA’s fold.

With around 5,30,748 votes in its kitty, the NDA is around 1 percentage point away from the 50 percent vote it requires for its candidate to win the presidential election. 

The Friendly Parties

Under these circumstances, the BJP will be banking on friendly parties like Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress and Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD), among other regional outfits, to back its candidate.

In the electoral college, the BJD, with 21 MPs and 114 MLAs has over 31,600 votes and the YSR Congress, witj31 MPs and 150 MLAs, around 45,000 votes.

By picking Murmu, who has her roots in Odisha, the BJP has ensured BJD's support. Patnaik has hailed BJP’s move to pick Murmu for the top post. YSR Congress leader Vijayasai Reddy has congratulated Murmu on being nominated as NDA's candidate in the Presidential election.

So, the NDA candidate is expected to sail through easily to Rashtrapati Bhavan with the support of the BJD and YSR Congress.

In 2017, the YSR Congress supported the NDA candidate. Although the BJD supported Kovind in 2017, it did not support the NDA candidate for the vice-president’s post. Instead, it backed the United Progressive Alliance’s Gopal Krishna Gandhi.

Odds stacked against Sinha

The Opposition, as of now, has around 3,92,242  votes from the electoral college in its kitty. Of this, 2.6 lakh are from UPA and rest  from other anti-BJP parties.

Also, read |  Third Front | Alternative political combination and its challenges

Even if the share of other opposition parties, including the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) — which has backed Yashwant  Sinha — is added,  the outcome is expected to be in favour of the NDA candidate.

Clearly, the odds are stacked against Sinha unless something unexpected happens on July 18.
Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 12 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.
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