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UP elections 2012: UPA may find it difficult to get its nominee elected as next President of India

It is evident that the Congress-led UPA will not be able to emulate the 2007 experience, when its candidate Pratibha Patil sailed through comfortably

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 06, 2012, 02.39 AM IST
NEW DELHI: With exit polls and political pundits predicting a not-too-promising scenario for Congress in the state that counts, Uttar Pradesh, UPA will find it difficult to get its nominee elected as the next President of India.

Though a clear picture of the exact strength of the electoral college will be available only after the declaration of results of the elections to the five state assemblies on Tuesday, it is evident that the Congress-led UPA will not be able to emulate the 2007 experience, when its candidate Pratibha Patil sailed through comfortably, defeating her rival Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, whose candidature was backed by a divided NDA. Shiv Sena, a key ally of BJP, had then extended its support to Patil, citing 'Maratha Pride'.

Congress' ability to install its nominee in the Rashtrapati Bhawan after the presidential poll to be held later this year will be put to test in the election of the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman next month. The six-year tenure of incumbent K Rahman Khan comes to an end on April 2, and given the UPA's numerical strength in the House of Elders, where it finds itself in a minority, it is unlikely that the ruling dispensation would be able to have its way.

Congress' plight has only worsened in recent times, with key ally, Trinamool Congress, joining hands with the Opposition on crucial policy and executive decisions to stall their implementation. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has formed an 'east coast axis' with her counterparts from Bihar and Odisha, and the three chief ministers are said to be coordinating their reflexes almost daily. Both states, interestingly, are ruled by Congress' adversaries.

The Trinamool Congress has 19 members in the Lok Sabha, and six in the Rajya Sabha. In the 294-member West Bengal assembly, it has a tally of 184 MLAs. The composition of the electoral college, which consists of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of legislative assemblies of the 25 states and the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry, has undergone a dramatic change since then, with the numbers stacked against the Congress-led coalition at the Centre.

Given the strains that have developed in relations between Trinamool Congress and Congress of late, it is unlikely that the West Bengal chief minister will bail out her alliance partner. There is already talk of the Opposition putting up former president APJ Abdul Kalam, who is seen to be a 'neutral' candidate.

BJP-led NDA may not be averse to backing his bid once again. Kalam's first stint in the Rashtrapati Bhawan was made possible by NDA, with the backing of outfits such as SP and BSP.

Pratibha Patil's stint as the country's President draws to a close on July 24, while vice-president Hamid Ansari's five-year term will end a month later.

Congress high command would be keeping a close tab on the outcome of the elections to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, for another reason too. The cumulative value of votes in the electoral college would add up to 2,02,602. The party's value in presidential poll electoral college is 45,640, leaving it with no option but to open negotiations with parties which are not in 'Opposition column'. These include outfits such as the Samajwadi Party and BSP.

The vote of each MP and MLA has a pre-determined value, which is arrived at on the basis of the population they represent. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote. The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled. It means that the winning candidate must have a minimum value of 5,49,442.

In an electoral college with a total value of 10,98,882, UPA commands votes whose total value is 4,39,437. The value of NDA's combined vote-share stands at 3,07,737, while that of non-NDA opposition (CPM+CPI+ RSP+Forward Bloc+AIADMK+BJD+ TDP+AGP) is pegged at 1,54,534.

It would be evident from the respective shares of NDA and the non-NDA Opposition in the electoral college that the total value of their votes would come to 4,62,271, which is more than that of the UPA. Congress, in order to ensure that its nominee is elected as the next president, will not only have to keep Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in good humour, but will also have to warm up to either SP or BSP after the next round of assembly polls.

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