Five assembly election results on March 11 will hold the key to the future course of political developments in the coming weeks. Will BJP continue its victory run as predicted by the pollsters?
A day after elections at the five state assemblies concluded, most exit polls predict a BJP juggernaut to roll on. If the exit polls reflect the actual results to be declared when counting begins on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and the BJP camp could breathe easy.
If the predictions are anything to go by, in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP looks set to emerge as the largest party, or even a clear winner, after two decades. With some variation, the pollsters also predict a victory for the party in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
The Congress was predicted to wean Punjab away from the Akali–BJP combine after ten years of the alliance’s rule.
A continuation of the BJP’s victory run is likely to have an impact on two significant political developments. First is the forthcoming election for the post of the President of India, when the tenure of the incumbent president, Pranab Mukherjee, expires on July 24.
Second, it could impact the composition of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House), where it has a tally of 56 out of 69 held by NDA. Massive victory in the five assembly states could boost its number considerably.
It will be some time before the seats from these states fall vacant.
The impact of the poll, as mentioned above, will be on the politics of choice and consensus over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nominated candidate for the next president of India.
On Friday, the Election Commission of India announced the schedule for by-elections to three parliamentary constituencies and 12 assembly seats in 10 states in April, with an effort to complete the Electoral College for the forthcoming Presidential Election.
Even before the play of politics by all the political parties over the choice and consensus of the presidential candidate, it will be the arithmetic that will hold the key to success.
In this context, the outcome of the seven-phased assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh that ended on March 8 will be significant in the making or breaking of the choice of either the ruling NDA led by PM Modi or the Opposition parties.
Election results on March 11 will primarily decide which way the presidential election will swing. Here, Uttar Pradesh plays the chief role in the success of the presidential elections.
Why Uttar Pradesh?
The President of India is elected by an Electoral College comprising Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies, unlike law makers who are directly elected by citizens.
Currently, BJP has 282 Lok Sabha members and 1,126 MLAs across different states. BJP had 40 seats in the last UP Assembly.
The tally is expected to improve with the result to be announced on Saturday. BJP-led governments rule in a dozen states. But, the party is out of power in the populous states, such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
As for the remaining poll-bound states, the value of an MLA’s vote is 116 in Punjab, 64 in Uttarakhand, 20 in Goa and 18 in Manipur.
If a candidate nominated by the BJP has to achieve the post of President of India, she or he has to win the required majority of 549,000 votes out of the total strength of Electoral College that stands at 1.09 million votes.
The value of votes cast by the elected members of the state legislative assemblies and both houses of parliament is determined by the provisions of Article 55(2) of the Constitution of India.
According to the 84th Amendment, the 1971 census is used, and will continue to be used until 2026.
In the presidential election, each MLA vote carries a value proportionate to the population of the state as per the 1971 census. There are 4,120 Members of Legislative Assemblies across different states and union territories.
Their total value is 549,474 votes.
With the highest population of 83 million people, the Uttar Pradesh assembly has 403 MLAs – the highest number of people’s representative in any state legislature in the country. As per the formula, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state. An MLA from there has the highest value at 208. MLAs from smaller states, such as Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have the least value at eight.
The total elected members in Lok Sabha are 543, while in the Rajya Sabha, they are 233. The total number of MPs is 776. Their value has been determined at 708 for each MP. So the total value of MPs is 549,408.
Will Tamil Nadu play spoilsport for BJP?
In the absence of AIADMK supremo, J Jayalalithaa, the MPs and MLAs from Tamil Nadu may not vote en bloc. As the BJP is seen as the supporting faction led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, it has annoyed the faction led by AIADMK’s new general secretary, Sasikala Natarajan. Will the large MLAs and MPs of Sasikala support the Government’s nominee for the president’s post?
Tamil Nadu has 234 seats in its assembly. The value of each MLA’s vote from Tamil Nadu, for the Presidential Election is 176. So, the total value of MLAs’ votes from Tamil Nadu is 41,184. It is to be seen how the Modi government will pacify the Sasikala faction to net the value of these crucial votes. Will there be some hard bargaining?
BJP increased its tally by 11,000 votes in the electoral colleges with the party winning 86 seats in Assam, four seats in West Bengal and one in Kerala. Besides, the increase of four seats in Rajya Sabha has marginally increased its share by 2,832 votes.
So, winning as many MLA seats as possible in Uttar Pradesh and other four states will be crucial for the Modi government to be able to choose its own candidate for the post of the president of the nation.