The latest state election results strengthen the ruling BJP’s hold over the Rajya Sabha and also place the party firmly in the driver’s seat for the election of a new president of India this year.
The BJP’s record win in Uttar Pradesh will have an immediate impact on the Rajya Sabha polls on March 31 and also the presidential election in July.
The President of India is elected by an electoral college that’s formed by 776 parliamentarians and 4,120 legislators. The total strength of the electoral college is 10,98,903 votes and the BJP’s strength is above the half-way mark.
The value of each vote for an MP is 708. In the case of MLAs, the value of the vote differs from state to state. MLA votes in Uttar Pradesh have the highest value – 208.
With the BJP and its allies winning over 270 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the ruling party is well-placed to pick the next President.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is a frontrunner for the top post but the BJP leadership has yet to take a call on whether incumbent Ram Nath Kovind should be offered a second term.
So far, only first president Rajendra Prasad was elected twice.
Government sources said a “lot of vetting is required” and finally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take a decision after a thorough assessment of the most suitable candidate to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan.
It is early days yet but the government, say sources, wants a consensus with its allies and supporting parties, so as to be in a “comfortable and commanding position” to decide on the next president.
The government will try and reach a consensus in consultation with its allies, including supporting parties like the YSR Congress and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD.
Opposition parties have been trying to put up a joint candidate for the presidential polls, but it will be difficult for the Congress to take the lead in this exercise after its poor election performance. Regional parties like Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, MK Stalin’s DMK, Uddhav Thackera’s Shiv Sena, and K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti are expected to play a key role in deciding whether to put up a joint opposition candidate.