Elections in 2017 Part 3- The Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections

The term of the incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee ends on 24/07/2017. The term of the incumbent Vice-President Hamid Ansari ends a little later, on 10/08/2017. In 2012, the elections were held less than a week before the terms ended.

The electoral college for electing the President includes all elected (not nominated) MLAs and MPs of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. It is somewhat more complicated than that of the US, as MLAs of different states have different weightages determined by a complicated formula. See this for an explanation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(India)

For the Vice-Presidential election it is simpler, as the electorate consists of only the (elected) members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. They have a single vote each, without the complication of weightages:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_vice-presidential_election,_2012#Electoral_College

As we have discussed earlier, assembly elections to two major states (UP and Punjab) and three smaller states (UK, Goa and Manipur) will be held in the first few months of 2017. There may be significant changes in the party composition of the assemblies of UP and Punjab. It will be interesting to see the composition of the electoral college in July, and whether the NDA government will be able to get its preferred candidate elected.

As for the Vice-Presidential election, we know that the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will not change significantly so the composition of the electoral college is virtually the same now. In fact, only the one Rajya Sabha seat from Goa may change hands by the time of the Vice-Presidential election, while elections for the 9 other Rajya Sabha seats are likely to be held later in August.

No serious proposals for candidates for these positions have been mentioned in the media so far.

Elections in 2017 Part 2-The Rajya Sabha

Supporters of the present NDA government often say that they are hampered by not having a majority in the Rajya Sabha. At least 10 Rajya Sabha seats are due for election  according to the schedule given below. Some more may fall vacant (for instance, Mithun Chakravarthy, a TC member from Bengal, has announced his resignation a few days back).

As we will see in a moment, there will be no significant change in the composition of the Rajya Sabha in 2017, regardless of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere.

This table was compiled from the official website of the Rajya Sabha, from where we can deduce who will retire in 2017.

http://164.100.47.5/newmembers/MemlistElDate.aspx

We get this list:

rajya-sabha-2017

Only Goa’s Assembly will have changed while Gujarat and West Bengal would remain the same at the time of the Rajya Sabha elections in July-August.

In Goa, the one seat held by the INC may go to the BJP (or perhaps the AAP if something very peculiar happens).

In Bengal, the 6 seats are held by the Trinamul (4), INC (1) and CPM (1). Looking at the present constitution of the assembly these seats are likely to go to the same parties (though the CPM is the only one in some danger of losing its seat).

In Gujarat, the 3 seats going for election this year include 2 held by the BJP and 1 by the INC. The elections in August are likely to give the same result.

So one would have to look beyond 2017 to see any significant change in the composition of the Rajya Sabha.

Also, the elections for the President and Vice President are due in July and August respectively and will probably be held before the Rajya Sabha elections described above (though the results of the latter hardly matter).

It may be a source of worry to the NDA that they may not have sufficient strength in the electoral college to be sure of getting their preferred Presidential candidate elected. By then, the assembly elections for UP, Punjab and 3 smaller states will have taken place and present indications are that the NDA will not gain significantly.

This is also apparent for the Vice-Presidential election where the electoral college consists of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members only.

So 2017 will be a year of numerous elections but, barring some completely unexpected events, they may not result in significant changes to the relative strengths of the main parties and alliances.

 

Looking ahead to India’s elections in 2017-Part 1

These are the Assembly elections due to take place in 2017:

state-assembly-2017

Knowing the end dates of the Assembly terms and the way that the Election Commission has handled things in the recent past, the approximate dates of polling can be predicted. It is too early to make serious predictions on the results.

I have included a column showing the number of Lok Sabha seats for each state. This is to keep things in perspective; even HP and UK do not account for even 1% of the Lok Sabha strength. Thus what happens in these states plus Goa and Manipur are not very significant on the national level. The real battleground is UP and Punjab now, and Gujarat later in the year.

So what difference do these results make to the larger picture? In terms of the Presidential election in July, not much. In terms of the composition of the Rajya Sabha, again not much because the seats up for election in 2017 are primarily from Bengal and Gujarat where there is not likely to be much change in the Rajya Sabha members elected. I will cover this in more detail later.

What is significant is the likelihood of a change in government in UP and Punjab, and probably Uttarakhand and Himachal as well. Even if there is a change in Goa and Manipur, it may not matter on the larger scale unless the AAP does unexpectedly well in Goa. What impact these changes will have on the functioning of the Central government are very speculative at the moment.

To be continued.

When Sardar Patel walked out from a plane crash (Revised)

A little known fact about Sardar Patel: he had a little adventure when his plane force-landed near Shahpura about 65 km north of Jaipur on March 29, 1949 where he was going to attend the inauguration of the new state of Rajasthan. He and the other occupants of the  aircraft were unhurt, but his whereabouts were not known for a few hours until he reappeared in Jaipur. The other passengers included his daughter Maniben and the Maharaja of Patiala.

Today Shahpura is a small and bustling town on the Delhi-Jaipur highway.

Here is a link to the Indian Express of March 31, 1949. It can be magnified to suit the reader’s convenience:

The Indian Express – Google News Archive Search

It is not clear from these reports whether it was an aircraft of the Air Force or some other government agency, and it is wrongly mentioned to be a Dove (see the link below):

This link from veteran aviation writer PVS Jagan: http://jaganpvs.tripod.com/trivia05.htm

tells us that it was an RIAF Devon piloted by Flt Lt KG Bhimrao. Although the aircraft was written off, no one was injured.

The confusion arose because the de Havilland Dove and Devon were essentially the same aircraft, although the military version was called the Devon. Some information and pictures here:

http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/threads/historical-fighter-planes-of-india.48691/page-8

The biographical film “Sardar” (1993) with Paresh Rawal in the title role briefly shows this incident near the close of the film, though one would not expect the technical details to be accurate in a popular film like this.

The Sardar’s  colleague Jagjivan Ram had not been so fortunate. He was seriously injured in a BOAC airliner’s crash in Iran shortly before Independence in which several people were killed. So he was the only cabinet minister who was unable to attend the Independence celebrations on August 15, 1947. A brief account of the crash is here (though it does not mention his name):

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19470716-0

There are, of course, several prominent Indians in politics who have been killed in aviation accidents, ranging from senior ministers such as Mohan Kumaramangalam and Madhavrao Scindia to other powerful persons such as Sanjay Gandhi and Dhirendra Brahmachari.

Footnote: The Maharaja of Patiala was one of the passengers on the Sardar’s aircraft. Earlier, as Yuvraj of Patiala, he had played one Test match for India in 1933-34 scoring a fifty. He would have played more Tests for India if he was not actively involved in politics. His son Captain Amarinder Singh, continues to be an important force in Punjab’s politics.

 

 

Man of the moment-Kirti Azad

Kirti Azad is not the only Indian international cricketer to have entered politics-but his impact on cricket may well have been more than that of more distinguished players who went into politics (e.g. Navjot Sidhu, Chetan Chauhan and Azharuddin).

He was born into a political family-his father Bhagwat Jha Azad was a freedom fighter and was briefly a Congress CM of Bihar in 1988-89. In contrast, Kirti is now a third-term MP of the BJP, presently representing Darbhanga. This is what the Lok Sabha website has to say:

http://164.100.47.192/Loksabha/Members/MemberBioprofile.aspx?mpsno=25

But we now concentrate on his relatively undistinguished cricketing career which nevertheless had some high points. We start with the Cricinfo player page:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/26325.html

As you can see, Cricinfo does not think he is important enough to rate a photograph.

It can be seen that he played 7 Tests with a top score of 24 and best bowling of 2-84. By some criteria one could consider him among the worst Test players of all time, since there might be only a handful of players who played that many Tests without scoring above 30 or taking a 3-for.

His main contribution to Indian cricket was in the 1983 World Cup, where he played a small supporting role in most of the matches-but came good when it was needed in the semi-final against England:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/65088.html

He took a miserly 1-28 off 12 overs (while Mohinder Amarnath took 2-27).

The one wicket he took was that of Botham.

Old-timers would remember how he almost single-handedly won a match against Pakistan-which was not an official ODI or even a List A match:

http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/141/141520.html

In domestic FC cricket he had a fairly impressive record, more as a batsman (20 centuries) than a bowler (5 fivers, no tenner).

But he seemed to have some strange power over England’s batsmen. His two best bowling analyses were against touring MCC teams. His best innings figures of 7-63 and match figures of 9-134 came in 1981-82 when he was still in contention for Tests and ODIs:

http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1980S/1981-82/ENG_IN_IND/ENG_PRES-XI_17-19NOV1981.htm

Much later, long after he had played his last match for India, he took 6-30 for Delhi against the ill-fated 1992-93 MCC team:

http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1992-93/ENG_IN_IND/ENG_DELHI_03-05JAN1993.html

This was one of the last FC matches he played.

Anyway, the contest between a BJP backbencher and top leader is likely to generate enough heat and light in the days to come.

Update: As expected, Kirti Azad was suspended from the BJP on disciplinary grounds on Dec 23.