How President of India is elected ?

The president of India, is the ceremonial head of state of India and the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.

The president is indirectly elected by an electoral college comprising the Parliament of India (both houses) and the legislative assemblies of each of India’s states and territories, who themselves are all directly elected.

Although the Article 53 of the Constitution of India states that the president can exercise his powers directly or by subordinate authority, with few exceptions, all of the executive powers vested in the president are, in practice, exercised by the prime minister (a subordinate authority) with the help of the Council of Ministers. The president is bound by the constitution to act on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet as long as the advice is not violating the constitution.


India achieved independence from the British on 15 August 1947, initially as a dominion within the Common wealth of Nations with George VI as king, represented in the country by a governor-general. Still, following this, the Constituent Assembly of India, under the leadership of B.R.Ambedkar, undertook the process of drafting a completely new constitution for the country. The Constitution of India was eventually enacted on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26 January 1950, making India a republic. The offices of monarch and governor-general were replaced by the new office of President of India, with Rajendra Prasad as its first incumbent.

The Indian constitution accords with the president, the responsibility and authority to defend and protect the Constitution of India and its rule of law. Invariably, any action taken by the executive or legislature entities of the constitution shall become law only after the president’s assent. The president shall not accept any actions of the executive or legislature which are unconstitutional. The president is the foremost, most empowered and prompt defender of the constitution (Article 60), who has pre-emptive power for ensuring constitutionality in the actions of the executive or legislature. The role of the judiciary in upholding the Constitution of India is the second line of defence in nullifying any unconstitutional actions of the executive and legislative entities of the Indian Union.

Difference between democracy and republic is a minor one where democracy refers to the government elected by the people while republic refers to the Head of the state elected by the people.   

In India, Prime Minister is the head of government while President is the head of the state. In England, Prime Minister is head of government and Queen is the head of the state. Since Prime minister is elected by the people of England but Queen is not, England is a democracy but not a republic. But in India both the head of the government as well as state both are elected by the people of India, India is a democratic as well as republic.   

As per Article 52 of the Constitution of India, there shall be a President of India and the executive powers of the Union shall be vested in the President. The President of India is the first citizen and represents the Indian nation and does not, therefore, belong to any particular political party. Election of President is conducted by the Election Commission of India. He / She  is indirectly elected by the people of India as the representatives of the people through an Electoral College.   

The main reasons behind the indirect election of President of India as discussed in the Constituent Assembly were –  

• If the direct election of the President were adopted, the Presidential candidate who has to carry on an election campaign from one corner of the country to another will certainly be put up by some party or the other, which may cause political excitement and generate party feelings. Thus the person elected to the Presidential office through this means will never be able to forget his party affiliations.  

• A directly elected President may not be content with his position of a mere constitutional head and can claim to derive his authority directly from the people. So, if he wanted to assume real power, it would lead to a constitutional deadlock.  

The Electoral College constitutes the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies who elect the President through proportional representation single transferable vote.   

Candidate who corners the majority i.e. more than 50 percent of votes is the winner but it is possible that four aspiring candidates A, B, C and D gets 35 %, 30% 25 % and 20 % respectively and no one gains more than 50% of votes. In this case, single transferable vote is used where each voter gave preference to each candidate as first, second, third of fourth preference. Since in the said example, D gets least number of first preference votes, He will be eliminated from the race and his votes will be distributed among the other contestants on the basis of the second preference.   

The Proportional Representation is followed by assigning a value to the votes of MP and MLA. Each member of the Electoral College who is a member of a State Legislative Assembly will have a number of votes calculated as follows : 

On vote of MLA = Total population of state/ Number of MLAs in the state x 1000 Fractions exceeding one half being are counted as one.   

For example , The population of Punjab is 1,35,51,060. Let us take the total number of elected members of the Legislature of Punjab to be 117. Now applying the aforesaid process, if we divide 1,35,51,060 (i.e. the population) by 117 (i.e. the total number of elected members), the quotient is 115821.0256. Therefore, the number of votes which each member of the Punjab Legislature would be entitled to cast is 115,821.0256/1000 i.e. 116.  

The value of a vote of MP is = Total value of vote of all MLAs/ Total No. of MPs  

In 2012 Presidential elections,  Value of vote of each elector in Parliament = 1025179/776 = 1321(without fraction)  

Total value of votes of Parliament = 776 x 1321= 1025096  

Total value of votes of State electors (4120 MLAs) = 1025179  

Total value of 4896 electors for Presidential election in 2012 = 2050275  

In this manner, total 4896 electors from the country will vote to elect the President of India through a single transferable vote. In order to be elected as President of India, he / she    

• Must be a citizen of India. 

• Completed 35 yrs in age. 

• Eligible to be a member of Lok Sabha. 

• Must not hold any Government post     

Supreme Court inquires all disputes regarding President’s election. President takes oath in presence of Chief Justice of India, or in his absence, senior most judge of Supreme Court.

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