Monday, 18 June 2012

The Conversation - IX (On How The President of India Is Elected)

Avinash: (Fuming) That was embarrassing !!

Me: What, my dear friend, was embarrassing ?

Avinash: Nothing

Me: Come on, spit it.

Avinash: How am I supposed to know that the election process of our President is entirely different from that of our MPs.

Me: A-ha

Avinash: Right in front of the neighbours my father asked me to go back to High School and brush up on my social studies.

Me: Ok ok, chill now.

Avinash: I challenged back that I'll be telling him about the whole process of President's election by evening.....& I'm looking for some help in that direction. Would you mind ?

Me: Not at all. Have I ever hesitated in telling you about any information you've sought for ?

Avinash: Yeah. I know. Thanks for that. But this time it's really important. Download the whole information into my head, brother.

Me: Ok. Now here's the thing about the presidential election that you first need to know. The President is not voted for directly by the people as happens in the general elections. Rather he is elected by an indirect voting system, that is by an electoral college, in accordance with the system of proportional representation by single transferable vote...

Avinash: Wait,wait, wait. What's an electoral college ?

Me: It consists of three groups of voters:-

a) the elected members of both Houses of Parliament
b) the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the states
c) the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the Union Territories

Avinash: This means that the nominated members of the Parliament or the State Assembly do not have any voting rights in the election of the President.

Me. That's correct.

Avinash. Alright, go on

Me: Article 55 of our Constitution mandates that, as far as practicable, there shall be uniformity of representation of different states in the election, in terms of the population and the total number of elected members of the Legislative Assembly of each state. It also requires that there shall be parity maintained between the states as a whole and the Centre. In this way the President shall be a representative of the nation as well as that of the people of different states as well.

Avinash: How is that achieved ?

Me: To achieve this parity a formula is adopted, which as follows:-

i) every elected member of the State Assembly shall have as many votes as there are multiples of one 
   thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of that state by the total number of elected  
   members in that Assembly 
ii) if by this division, the remainder is 500 or more, it' ll be counted as one and the vote of each member is 
    increased by one

For example let's say that the population of State X is 2, 08, 49, 840 and the number of elected members of its Legislative Assembly is 208. Then the number of votes in the hand of each elected member of X's Legislative Assembly is (2, 08, 49, 840 / 208) / 1000 = 100.Likewise, the number of votes to be cast by the entire State Legislative Assembly of X is 208 x 100 = 20, 800.

Similarly the voting calculation of Members of the Parliament is as follows:-

  • the number of votes that each elected MP is entitled to cast is obtained by dividing the total number of votes in the State Legislative Assemblies of all states (as obtained by the abovementioned formula) by the total number of elected MPs of both houses
  • if by this division, the remainder exceeds 1/2, it'll be counted as one.
For example, in India, suppose the total number of votes of elected members of all the State Legislative Assemblies comes to 74, 940 & the total number of elected MPs in the Parliament is, say, 750. Then each elected MP of the parliament shall be entitled to cast 74, 940 / 750 = 99 23/25 and since 23 / 25 is greater than 1/2, it'll be counted as 1 and added to 99 thus making the votes of each elected MP as 100.

This is how parity is achieved between the votes of State Legislative Assemblies' members and members of Parliament.

Avinash: Tell me one thing. Why such an indirect system of voting for the election of the President is there instead of the simple system of direct voting by the people all over the country.

Me: You must understand one thing first. That the President of India is only a nominal head. The real power vests in the Council of Ministers who enjoy the popular support i.e. they are elected by direct voting of the people of this country. If you remember one previous conversation that we had, I'd explained how our President cannot act in defiance of the recommendations and advise of the Ministers in the Parliament. In short, he can only do such things, that are approved by the Council of Ministers. Therefore it is pointless to incur such humongous expenditure of time and money for his election. Furthermore if the President does not have real powers, which actually vests in the Ministry, then it would be contradictory to ask the common man to elect him when the person he elects has no real power.

Avinash: You used the expression "proportional representation by single transferable vote". Care to explain.

Me: The election takes place in consonance with the system of proportional representation by single transferable vote by secret ballot system. The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum remain anonymous. Proportional representation system means that the number of seats won by a candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through preferential voting. Under this method, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or unused votes are transferred according to the voter's stated preferences.

Let me now explain you these concepts in the present context.

Let us suppose that there are four candidates running for President - A, B, C & D and that the total number of votes available are 1500. A candidate must secure at least 7, 501 votes i.e. more than half the first preference votes. to be declared elected. In the first round of count if no one secures this mark of votes then the candidate with the least votes will be eliminated. Then the second preference votes will be transferred to the remaining candidates. as per the preference given by the voters. This process will be repeated till one candidate secures more than half the total votes. The candidate who shall so secure, will be declared as the winner.

Avinash: Its a little mathematical, isn't it !!!

Me: It sure is. Also remember a few more relevant facts.

Avinash. Tell me

Me:  Article 58 of the Constitution sets the principal qualifications one must meet to be eligible for the office of the President. He or she must be:

  • A citizen of India and
  • Of 35 years of age or above and
  • Qualified to become a member of the Lok Sabha

A person shall not be eligible for election as President if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments.

Certain office-holders, however, are permitted to stand as Presidential candidates. They are:
  • the current Vice President.
  • the Governor of any State.
  • a Minister of the Union or of any State (Including Prime Minister and Chief Ministers)
In the event that the Vice President, a State Governor or a Minister is elected President, they are considered to have vacated their previous office on the date they begin serving as President.

On being successfully elected, the President shall be administered his oath by the Chief Justice of India and in his absence, the senior most Judge of the Supreme Court. Once elected, he shall hold his office for a tenure of five years. Even after the expiry of five years, he may hold his office until his successor enters thereupon. He is also eligible for re election and unlike the President of USA, who cannot be elected as President more than twice, he can be re elected any number of terms. The President of India can be removed by the Parliamaent by a process of impeachment on the ground (s) of violation of our Constitution.

Avinash: Thanks a lot bro !! You sure saved my face.

Me: You are welcome.


(The facts mentioned in this post are based on the author's reasearch. The author does not claim that they depict the entire facts as they stand, concerning the topic, nor is it denied that there could be lapses in the depiction. The readers are sincerely advised to make a detailed study of the matter for holistic information)



  1. wow! Excellent... loads of information... what a learning you gave.. Thanks.

  2. i just love your conversations meaningful and informative ...can make out how much of research must have gone into this post ...good work !

  3. Informative conversations ! Compile them into an ebook :-)

  4. Nothing like a conversation to help understand stuff! Way to go!

  5. The elected person must be at least 35, I think there should be an upper limit of 60 or 65 as well. Where is the retirement age for politicians.

  6. Interesting format love the conversational tone...

  7. Civics never made much sense to me, neither in school nor does it now and yet I take a lot of interest in politics and power equations. Kudos to you Anupam for stating it outright and thorough research I must say.