Today afternoon, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Mr. Amit Shah announced that Mr. Ram Nath Kovind would be the candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the upcoming Presidential Elections in the country. Let us get to know the next President of India (officially he is only a candidate as of now but there is nothing official about the truth – more on that later).
Background to the Presidential Elections
In India, the President is only the constitutional head of the State (Capital S in ‘State’ means the reference is to a country) and the real executive power lies with the Prime Minister (PM). However, all executive decisions of the Union or Central Government are made in the name of the President. The President is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and gets to live in the palatial Rashtrapati Bhawan. So, just a figurehead, you would think. But he does have some powers. In the situation after a national election, if no party achieves the majority mark, it is the President who gets to decide which party or group of parties to call to form the government.
The current President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee took office in July 2012. The term of office of the President is five years so the next President must be elected before that term ends so that there can be a smooth transition. The Election Commission of India has notified the dates for the election. The voting will take place on the 17th of July and the counting of votes will be done on the 20th of July 2017.
Don’t take your Voter ID cards out just yet. The President of India is not directly elected by the people of India. He is elected by the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs). The election process is another ball game altogether and deserves another article (may be when we know if the opposition puts up a candidate and the numbers game becomes interesting).
Ram Nath Kovind – NDA’s candidate and next President of India
Lastly, I come back to the fact that he will be the next President of India. It is not official yet but nothing is official about the truth and the truth is this. As of now, the opposition has not put up a candidate for the post of President and there is no certainty that they will come around to doing so because many parties will be hesitant to be obstructing the passage of a Dalit to the highest office in the country (however, there has been one more Dalit President in India, K.R. Narayanan). Even if the Indian National Congress (INC) and some other opposition parties put up a candidate it will merely be a symbolic fight because as I mentioned earlier the voters in a Presidential election in India are the MPs and the MLAs and the BJP (or NDA, the alliance) has majority of MPs and rules many states thereby having large number of MLAs. The numbers can get tricky only if some members of NDA (like the Shiv Sena) go against the NDA candidate and all the remaining non-NDA parties refuse to support Mr. Kovind, which is a very unlikely scenario. So, start memorising the name of the next President of India, Mr. Ram Nath Kovind.