Friday, December 03, 2021

President’s election: Nitish Kumar in talks with Opposition parties over common nominee

In 2012, Nitish, despite being a part of the NDA then, had supported UPA’s Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

Written by Anand Mishra | New Delhi |
February 13, 2017 3:01:35 am
nitish kumar, president election, president pranab mukherjee, JD(U), congress, UPA, new president election, president post nominee, president post nominee names Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at NIT Alumni meet in Patna on Sunday. PTI Photo

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who recently gave a call for “maximum Opposition unity”, is learnt to have broached the idea of the non-NDA parties propping up a common candidate for the Presidential Election in July. In 2012, Nitish, despite being a part of the NDA then, had supported UPA’s Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee. The Bihar CM, who was in the national capital recently, is learnt to have shared his “concern” with leaders of NCP, CPM, CPI and INLD over the possibility of BJP propping up “somebody with RSS background” for the top job and is learnt to have emphasised on the need for non-NDA parties to back a common candidate.

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Nitish Saturday called on INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala at his 11, Meenabagh residence. JD(U) leader K C Tyagi described the meeting as a “courtesy call” because of “old relations” between Nitish and Chautala, who is out on parole for three weeks. The Bihar CM visited CPI’s central office at Ajoy Bhavan Friday and met party leaders D Raja and Sudhakar Reddy. Thereafter, he drove to CPM’s office, where he spoke to party general secretary Sitaram Yechury. On February 9, he was at Gondia in Maharashtra to attend a function at Manoharbhai Patel Institute of Engineering and Technology set up by NCP leader Praful Patel.

Sources in JD(U) said the issue of propping up a common Presidential nominee was one of the issues discussed in these meetings. They added that Kumar is also in touch with Congress leaders and will meet them in the near future.  “The President’s election is a key issue for us. The next President comes two years before the general elections. It’s a Constitutional post and should not go to somebody from RSS or some other partisan person. We had backed Mukherjee’s candidature in the last polls as we wanted somebody who understands Constitutional processes and is a stickler for rules,” a JD(U) functionary said.

In 2012, BJP had fielded P A Sangma. UPA nominee Mukherjee defeated Sangma by a margin of around 40 per cent votes. In 2002, when NDA was in power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP backed consensus candidate A P J Abdul Kalam as it did not have enough numbers in the electoral college. This time, much of what BJP’s move will be depends on the results of Assembly polls in five states. The electoral college through which the President is elected comprises 4,896 legislators — 776 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, and 4,120 MLAs. All MPs have an equal vote value of 708 while that of MLAs varies according to the population of the state.

Of the 10,98 lakh votes in the electoral college this time, the majority mark would be 5.49 lakh votes. BJP has 282 Lok Sabha members and 1,126 MLAs. Twelve states have BJP-led governments, but the party is out of power in populous states like UP and Bihar. In UP, which is the country’s most populous state, the value of an MLA’s vote is 208. As for the remaining poll-bound states, the value of an MLA’s vote is 116 in Punjab, 64 in Uttarakhand, 20 in Goa and 18 in Manipur. NDA requires around 75,000 more votes to ensure that its nominee wins the election.

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