Presidential elections 2007 . Do I have a SAY?
The race for Rashtrapati Bhavan has begun for the world s largest democracy. I am sure common man has started thinking about his role in electing the representative of over one billion people. He will have questions like . Do I have a say in electing the president? Or Can I elect the president who will represent me?
Let us first see how the Indian president is elected?
The President of India is elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of the Parliament and the elected members of the state legislative assemblies. The total number of votes cast by Members of Parliament equals the total number of votes cast by state legislators. While the value of votes of each MP is the same, the strength of a vote of an MLA is determined by way of proportional representation. The MPs, too, have a specific value for each vote that is determined by dividing the total value of votes of all the states by the total number of elected members of Parliament.
The actual calculation for votes cast by a particular state is calculated by dividing the state's population by 1000, which is divided again by the number of legislators from the State voting in the Electoral College. This number is the number of votes per legislator in a given state.
What are ways in which president can be elected?
Democratic countries around the globe are in debt to the British for The parliamentary system of democracy. This system originated because of King George I's inability to speak English. He rightly delegated the responsibility for chairing cabinet to the leading minister, literally the prime minister.
In a parliamentary system or multi-party form of government the executive is formally dependent on the legislature. He is elected also by the legislature.
In most parliamentary systems like India the head of state is primarily a ceremonial position, often a monarch or president, retaining duties without much political relevance, such as civil service appointments.
In a presidential system the president shall be nation's head of state and active chief executive authority. It is often associated with the congressional system of government.
In a presidential system, the central principle is that the legislative and executive branches of government should be separate. This leads to the separate election by the electorate or an electoral college of the president.
Both the methods have merits and demerits. Both systems finally depend on the men who man it. Constitutional Presidential systems of government have proved rather unsuccessful in many countries. There have been frequent tensions and conflicts between Parliament and the Executive. Therefore, we can only adopt a method to elect the president, which avoids conflicts and facilitates cooperation and is in tune with the aspirations of the people and the requirements of a democratic government.
In the Indian context the philosophy of a nation is reflected in its constitution. We cannot adopt a presidential system (where president is elected directly) because it goes against the basic structure of the constitution. Even by a constitutional amendment, Parliament has no power to amend the Constitution in a way that can take away the basic principles. A review of the Constitution can only be done by invoking a fresh constituent assembly, which alone will have the power to recast the Constitution.
We have of course witnessed some confusions and dramas in the race for Rashtrapati Bhavan. But the remedy should not be worse than the disease.