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.

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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.