If needed, the Presidential election will be held on July 17 and results will be announced three days later, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi announced on Wednesday.
Neither the BJP nor the Opposition has proposed a candidate for the post yet. While the Opposition has put the onus of proposing a consensus candidate on the government, the BJP has not revealed its choice of candidate for the country’s 14th President.
The BJP’s impressive win in the recent election in Uttar Pradesh is expected to help it push its own candidate for the President’s post. President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 24.
The President is elected by an electoral college made up of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs and MLAs, including those elected from National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Puducherry. “Political parties cannot issue whips to their MPs or MLAs in the voting of Presidential polls,” the CEC said.
Currently, the electoral college has 13 vacancies — two Lok Sabha seats (Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir and Gurdaspur in Punjab), one Rajya Sabha seat (from Madhya Pradesh) and 10 MLAs from different states. The Gurdaspur seat is vacant on account of actor-MP Vinod Khanna’s death, and the Madhya Pradesh vacancy was created with Environment Minister Anil Dave’s death. “These vacancies are part of a continuous process and will be filled up from time to time,” Zaidi told reporters.
In a decision prompted by the “ink controversy” surrounding the results of the Haryana Rajya Sabha polls last year, the Election Commission (EC) will provide special pens for marking of the preferences during the poll. “Electors have to mark the ballot only with this particular pen and not with any other pen. Voting by using any other pen may lead to invalidation of the vote at the time of counting,” said an EC release.
In Haryana, votes of 12 Congress legislators were declared invalid as they had used a wrong pen. As a result, lawyer R K Anand, the candidate Congress was backing, lost the election and BJP-backed media baron Subhash Chandra won. While some saw this as a potential revolt of former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Congress leader blamed returning officer R K Nandal, alleging that he had provided a “dodgy pen” to cast votes.