Presidentship is not a political but a constitutional post, though that fact has never stopped political parties from capitalising on it. Ever since the Election Commission set the ball rolling for the Presidential election, the speculations over the candidates and arithmetic of votes haven't stopped since. June 29 is the last date for candidates to file papers. Voting is scheduled for July 18, while the counting is on July 21, following which the new President of India will take oath on July 25. As for the incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind, his term will end on July 24 of this year.
Let's do the maths
The Electoral college elects the President, which, broadly speaking, this year comprises 776 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 4,033 MLAs who will be voting to nominate the President. The total value of votes is 10,86,431, of which the value of MLAs' votes is 5,43,231 and that of MPs is 5,43,200.
Meanwhile, the BJP clearly has an advantage given its recent win in the assembly polls, including UP. Though the BJP and its allies have fewer MLAs than it had in 2017, the numbers of its MPs have gone up, making it confident of a win.
The alliance is further hopeful of getting close to 50 per cent votes and support from independent regional parties like YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh and BJD in Odisha. It is also counting on support from its ally in Tamil Nadu assembly polls, AIADMK. But the fact that the BJP is shy of the total 50 per cent share it needs to elect its candidate for the President has opened up opportunities for the rival parties to field a rival candidate.
Of Jagan Mohan Reddy and Naveen Patnaik
The recent meeting of PM Modi with YSRCP chief Jagan Mohan Reddy and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, set many speculating as to who will be being backed for the nation's top post?
Patnaik, though told media persons later, that it was a courtesy call and they did not discuss Presidential Election. Patnaik, during the same visit, also met Home Minister Amit Shah. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy met the PM, reportedly, for 45 long minutes where the PM made a formal request to Jagan to back the NDA candidate.
One of the biggest hurdles for the probable candidates remains to get their parties to come to a common ground on their candidature. So far, no political party has named its choice for the top constitutional post but even then it's a known fact among those in the power corridors that President Kovind will not get a second term in the office. No one ever has, except for the first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad. Unless of course, the BJP wants to spring a surprise once again.
Can it ever be Nitish Kumar?
Soon after the announcement of the presidential poll by the Election Commission, Bihar Rural Development Minister Shrawan Kumar on Thursday lobbied for a Bihari President. He said, "Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has all the ability to hold the office of the President and though he is not the in the race but every person would want him to become the President."
The CM has already clarified in the past that he has no intention of running for the post.
Who all are in the fray?
That question cannot be answered without taking a look at whether the current President Ram Nath Kovind stands a chance at renomination. Or will the BJP field vice-president K Venkaiah Naidu who is being seen as a potential candidate.
Even in 2017, the BJP had sprung a surprise by zeroing in on its then Bihar governor Kovind who is from the Dalit community. The move was seen as much as an attempt to appease the Dalits as an attempt to field low-profile candidates that never distract from the overall political landscape of the ruling party. It will, in all likelihood, be a candidate who ticks off both the requirements.