President, vice-president elections: BJP banks on 'friendly' parties, chief ministers
With the presidential elections due in July, political parties are intensifying their preparations to get their candidates elected. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has started reaching out to friendly chief ministers and parties. As usual, Bihar has been the point of its focus this time, too, as Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan called on JD(U) leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in Patna on Thursday.
Why does this story matter?
- Kumar has traditionally supported the rival's candidate in presidential elections. So, it is important for BJP to win his support.
- When he was part of the BJP-led NDA in 2012, he supported the Congress-led UPA's candidate Pranab Mukherjee.
- In 2017, when he was part of the Grand Alliance with RJD and Congress, he backed NDA's Ram Nath Kovind, instead of the alliance's Meira Kumar.
Bihar BJP not informed about Pradhan, Nitish's meeting
Amid speculations of a growing rift between the BJP and Kumar, the meeting—of which the BJP Bihar unit wasn't informed—is seen as a placatory gesture. If the status quo between the BJP and the Opposition is maintained and the voting process is held in its present form, the BJP's presidential candidate can get a decisive lead with the help of JD(U) support from Bihar.
BJP leadership unhappy over rumors of BJP-JD(U) rift
Meanwhile, the BJP is also not happy with rumors about a rift with the JD(U) and it doesn't want Bihar BJP leaders to create an impression that the central leadership wants to replace Kumar. Therefore, Pradhan possibly met Kumar to assure him of a smooth alliance. On the other hand, there are speculations that Kumar could be chosen for a central position, including vice-president.
Electoral college gives edge to Opposition over NDA
The current status of the electoral college for the presidential election gives the Opposition a slight edge over the NDA. However, if the BJP keeps its votes intact and wins the support of regional and smaller parties, it can run past the hurdles and ensure a comfortable lead to get its candidate elected for the post of the President of India in July.
Responsibility to fill electoral college gaps given to senior leaders
News agency IANS quoted a BJP insider as saying that the responsibility to fill the electoral college gap will be given to senior party leaders like JP Nadda, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, and Nitin Gadkari. The Indian Express reported that during a meeting attended by Defence Minister Singh at PM Narendra Modi's residence last week, the presidential elections were also discussed.
BJP working on 'wooing' friendly non-NDA parties
NDA needs an additional 1.2% share in the electoral college to cross the halfway mark, IANS reported. BJP's victory in the recent Assembly elections suggests the NDA's numbers are secure. As Pradhan's meeting with Nitish set the ball rolling, BJP strategists are also trying to woo Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal and Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party.
2017 vs 2022: What is NDA's position?
In 2017, when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power in 21 states, its candidate Ram Nath Kovind won with 65.65% votes of the electoral college. In 2022, however, 18 states are either reportedly being governed by the BJP or its alliance partners.
What is electoral college that elects President of India?
The president is elected by members of an electoral college comprising 776 elected MPs—Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha—and the MLAs of states and union territories of Delhi, Puducherry, and Jammu & Kashmir. The value of an MLA's vote depends on the population of the state they represent. At present, an MLA from Uttar Pradesh has the highest value followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal.
How is the vice-president of India elected?
The vice-president of India is elected indirectly by an electoral college consisting of members—both elected and nominated—of both Houses of Parliament. Unlike the president's election, MLAs are not part of the electoral college for the vice-president's election. The vice-presidential election is due in August and the NDA led by the BJP has a clear majority in both the Houses.