M A I N   N E W S

After Kalam, who?
Mayawati may prefer an upper-caste nominee
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
With UP Chief Minister Mayawati clearly having an upper hand in July's presidential election, there are indications that the BSP supremo might opt for an upper caste or Brahmin nominee contrary to widespread expectations that her preference will be for a Dalit or backward caste for the highest constitutional office of the country.

Mayawati's triumph in the critical state of UP, having a secured a majority on her own thus dispensing with any coalition arrangement in Lucknow, brings to the fore a new and unexpected dimension to the value of votes in the electoral college of the two Houses of Parliament and the state legislatures which elect the First Citizen.

It is apparent that the BSP and the Samajwadi Party (SP) of former UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav cannot be taken for granted. This is all the more so with the SP making it clear that it will support a presidential nominee of the Left parties alone without the Congress being involved in any manner. Obviously, the Left is not including the SP in its calculations as of now and banking on the BSP to extend support to a consensus candidate thrown up by the Congress-led UPA.

While the Left is keeping its cards close to its chest, they are scheduled to meet here on Wednesday to deliberate on the matter though their chances of throwing up a nominee of their own appears remote.

According to sources, considering the social engineering undertaken by Mayawati in UP which enabled her garner the votes of upper castes and Brahmins in the state leaving the Congress and BJP pulverised, it might be another astute political gambit to back a Brahmin for the post of President.

That will send an entirely different signal to the Hindi heartland in the light of the general elections barely two years away in 2009. Coupled with this, the terms of the assemblies of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan come to an end in December 2008 and January 2009, respectively.

There are several fringe parties like the Telengana Rashtra Samiti which has bid adieu to the UPA, the INLD, the JKNP, AGP, RLD which are being treated with an element of circumspection. Since their value of votes does not add up to much in the electoral college, the Congress-led UPA, the Left and the NDA with the BJP in the vanguard are eyeing those owing allegiance to them.

The voting in the presidential poll is by secret ballot. UP, which contributes the highest number of 80 seats to the Lok Sabha and has the largest assembly of 403 seats, remains pivotal because it has the largest value of votes with Sikkim having the lowest value of votes.

There are 4,120 legislators in the country. The value of the legislators' votes is 549,474. The number of MPs are 776 (543 in the Lok Sabha and 233 in the Rajya Sabha). Nominated members do not have voting rights. The value of an MPs vote is fixed at 708. An MP's vote is calculated by dividing the total value of all the legislators votes by the number of MPs. The value of the MPs votes is thus 776 x 708 which totals 549,408. The total votes in the electoral college is therefore 549,474 plus 549,408 which amounts to 1.098 million.

Following is a table of the value of votes of the electoral college comprising the two Houses of Parliament and the state legislatures:

Lok Sabha - 394,490; Rajya Sabha - 164,984; State assemblies - 549,474.

The value of votes of the major formations:


Congress - 283,243, RJD - 32,730, CPI (M) - 81,019, CPI - 15115, AIFB - 7365, RSP - 6360, JMM - 6420, LJP - 4740, MUL - 2480, DMK - 29,754, NCP - 25,168, PMK - 8125, MDMK - 3888, PDP - 2640. Minus the BSP this adds up to 488,915;


BJP - 247,831, JD (U) - 27,055, SS - 20,779, BJD - 19,710, JD (S) - 11,956, SAD (Badal) - 13,473, AITC - 7362, SDF - 1633, MPF - 1596 and MNF - 1592.


BSP - 61319, SP - 60532, TDP - 13889, JKNP- 3924, AGP - 4200, RLD - 4912, AIADMK - 19281, TRS - 7388, INLD - 2811 and independents - 33,043.



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