NEW DELHI: The seven-phase elections in India’s most populous state — Uttar Pradesh — kicks off on Thursday. Voters of UP will not only choose the next government in Lucknow, but also play a decisive role in the election of the President of India scheduled for July this year.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has a clear edge over the Opposition as per their strength in Parliament and state assemblies. Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP has a three-fourth majority in the outgoing Assembly, contributes a big chunk of votes for the party in the Presidential electoral college. The party, therefore, has to win the state comfortably to retain its advantage and get its man in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
A study of the electoral college reveals that the NDA has a total of a little over 1.5 lakh votes from all the states minus UP. NDA’s brute majority in UP Assembly contributes 65,000 to its kitty. This takes NDA’s state vote tally to over 2.1 lakh votes. Add to this the Parliament votes (2.3 lakh in Lok Sabha and 75,000 in Rajya Sabha) and the total NDA votes go up to 5.2 lakh. This, along with the votes of Independents in states and in Parliament help the NDA cross the majority mark. The total value of votes cast by all elected MPs and MLAs in Presidential election is 10,98,903 with 5,49,452 as the half-way mark.
The opposition United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Congress has 2.3 lakh votes in the states. This includes the Aam Aadmi Party which is not part of the UPA but is likely to vote against the BJP candidate, and All India Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee who had recently declared that there was no UPA. She too is likely to vote for the Opposition.
Besides the state votes, the UPA has one lakh votes in Lok Sabha and 59,000 in Rajya Sabha. This takes its tally to a little over 4.1 lakh votes. Then there are the fence-sitters like Biju Janata Dal, YSR Congress Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Bahujan Samaj Party, Shiromani Akali Dal and a few other smaller parties. These parties together have 1.1 lakh votes in Parliament and assemblies combined.
Of them, the TRS, after its recent vituperative outburst against the BJP and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s boycott of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programme in the state, seems likely to vote against the BJP nominee.
The real fence-sitters therefore are Naveen Patnaik (BJD), Jagan (YSRCP), Mayawati (BSP) and Badal (SAD). These are the leaders to be watched in the event of the BJP losing UP. They will play a crucial role in the election of the next President in such an eventuality.
Votes of UP MLAs matter the most
The President of India is elected by an electoral college consisting of members of both houses of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) of states and Union Territories. The value of the vote for an MLA of a particular state is calculated by dividing the total number of electors in that state with total number of MLAs.
This gives the value or weightage of the vote of each MLA in a state or Union Territory. Similarly, the value of the vote of an MP is calculated by taking the total value of votes of all the state and Union Territory Assemblies together and dividing it by the total number of elected MPs of both Houses of Parliament.
The value of votes of MLAs differs for every state, but the value of each MP’s vote is the same at 708. Among the states in India, MLAs from Uttar Pradesh have the highest value for their votes as they are elected by the largest number of electors.
The value of vote of each UP MLA is 208. The lowest vote value is of Sikkim MLAs, whose weightage is seven. The value of votes, however, is calculated on the basis of the 1971 census rather than the current population of states. This is done to ensure that states practising population control are not penalised with lower value for their votes.
Jat belt to have its say
Fifty-eight Assembly seats in the Jat belt spread across 11 districts in western Uttar Pradesh will go to polls in Phase I on Thursday