JAMMU, July 16: Eighty-seven elected MLAs of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly would cast their votes in the Legislature complex at Srinagar, the summer capital of the State tomorrow, along with members of all other State Assemblies and Members of Parliament (MPs) of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to elect new President of the country in place of Pranab Mukherjee, whose five-year term expires on July 24.
BJP’s candidate Ram Nath Kovind, backed by its partners in NDA and several Opposition parties is pitted against Congress backed Meira Kumar, who also has support of some Opposition parties, for the post of President. Going by the Electoral College for the post of President which included MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and elected MLAs of all States, Kovind has clear edge in the election.
Official sources told the Excelsior that it would be a secret election, unlike the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council polls, which are held through open ballot and the parties can issue whip to their MLAs to cast votes in favour of their candidates. However, in the election of President, the parties can’t issue whip but only advice the members of Electoral College to vote for particular candidates.
“It will be a secret ballot and political parties can’t appoint their Observers to check the ballots,” sources said, adding that the MLAs can cast their votes as per their own conscience.
All nine MPs of Jammu and Kashmir including five Lok Sabha members and four of Rajya Sabha, would cast their votes at Parliament House in New Delhi. According to sources, the MPs can cast votes either in the polling station of their State or in the Parliament complex. However, for casting their votes in the State, they had to submit in writing to the Returning Officer, which hasn’t been done by any of the nine MPs J&K have. Therefore, all of them would vote in the Parliament.
“Entire election process from 10 am to 5 pm will be videographed in the presence of a Central Observer, who has already reached Srinagar,” sources said.
The ballot boxes will be taken to New Delhi on Monday and deposited in the Parliament Hall, where counting will take place on July 20. The result is likely to be declared by the evening.
Sources disclosed that only 87 elected MLAs of the State Assembly were eligible to cast their votes for the post of President while two Nominated women MLAs can’t vote. Out of 87 MLAs, BJP has 25 but has the support of three Others including two MLAs of People’s Conference and another Independent MLA Bakir Rizvi of Zanskar, taking their total to 28. BJP’s coalition partner, PDP also has 28 MLAs. Opposition National Conference has 15, Congress 12 and CPM one. Rest three are Independents including Hakim Mohammad Yasin, Pawan Gupta and Engineer Rashid.
Each MLA of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has vote value of 72.
While BJP and its allies including PDP, People’s Conference and Bakir Rizvi would voting for Kovind, NC, Congress and CPM MLAs have extended their support to Meira Kumar. Three Independent MLAs will take their own decision.
Similarly, out of nine MPs of Jammu and Kashmir, BJP has four (three Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha members) followed by PDP 3 (one Lok Sabha and two Rajya Sabha). Opposition NC and Congress have one MP each. While NC has Dr Farooq Abdullah as Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, Congress has Ghulam Nabi Azad as Rajya Sabha member from J&K.
One Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir (Anantnag-Pulwama) is vacant after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti quit the seat on being elected as the Chief Minister and MLA from Anantnag. Election to Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was deferred in April by the Election Commission due to unrest in the Valley especially South Kashmir.
Vote value of all MPs is 708.
With nine MPs and 87 MLAs, Jammu and Kashmir accounted for total 12,636 votes, sources said.
Counting of votes will take place on July 20 and the result will be declared by the evening, four days ahead of the completion of term of President Pranab Mukherjee.
PTI adds from New Delhi:-
Election for the next President of India will be held tomorrow where NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind is pitted against opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
The counting of votes will take place on July 20 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 July 24. So far 13 stalwarts, including Mukherjee, have held the post.
The electoral college which elects the President through the system of proportional representation, comprises MPs and members of State Legislative Assemblies.
A total of 4896 voters — 4120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs — are eligible to cast their ballot. MLCs of States with Legislative council 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 NDA, led by the BJP, has 5,37,683 votes including the Shiv Sena, and the shortage is around of 12,000 votes.
But the promised support from the BJD, the TRS and the YSR Congress and likely backing from the AIADMK factions could offset the shorfall 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 previous polls in 2007. 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 Parliament House and one each in the State Legislative Assemblies, have been set up.
33 observers have been appointed by the EC to oversee the conduct of election. While two observers will be present in the Parliament House, one each will be deployed in the respective State Assemblies.
In a fresh development, the Election Commission has barred MPs and MLAs who vote to elect the next President tomorrow from carrying their personal pens inside the voting chamber and will have to mark their ballot with specially- designed marker pens.