All eyes are on Nitish, who voted for UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee in 2012 while in NDA, and in 2017, while in alliance with RJD, voted for Ramnath Kovind. The opposition parties count on the 16th presidential election as an exciting battle. By nominating Yashwant Sinha as their candidate, the opposition now hopes to get the Janata Dal (United) of the chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, to their side to level the battle a little more. In recent weeks, the JD(U) and the BJP have been at each other’s throats, and the latest point of friction has been the government’s new military recruiting plan, Agnipath.
Nitish Kumar has a curious history in presidential elections. In 2012, when he was part of the NDA alliance, he voted for UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee. And in 2017, while in a mahagatbandhan with the RJD, he voted for NDA nominee Ramnath Kovind. Just weeks after Mr. Kovind had been elected, Mr. Kumar left the grand alliance and was returned to the NDA. In line with this trend, the opposition parties hope that Mr. Kumar, to send a message to the BJP, with whom he has had an uneasy relationship since the results of the 2020 Bihar meeting, could vote with them. The JD(U) leaders are silent about the party’s voting preference. The JDU (United) has 22,769 votes, taking the opposition past 4.5 lahks.
Only MPs and members of the legislative assemblies of the states can vote in this election. The vote value for each MP is 700, and for each MLA, the value varies depending on the strength of the population they represent. Presidential polls are often fixed matches where the result is already known before the game starts. The opposition’s best bet is to make it a tough competition by narrowing the government’s margin of victory and giving them a few anxious moments.
As the numbers are currently stacked, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has nearly 5.23 lakh votes in the electoral college from over ten lahks. It is almost 20,000 votes away from the majority. They hope to make up for this difference with the support of the Biju Janta Dal, which has 31,705 votes, and the YSR Congress, which has 45,798 votes. “It’s a much closer battle than people think it is. And it won’t be easy for the government,” Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary (Communications), told The Hindu.
Eleven opposition parties (Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, Shiv Sena, NCP, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, AIMIM, JMM, National Conference, AIUDF) and the Left Front together have 3.8 lazy votes. If the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Aam Aadmi party were to support Mr. Sinha, this number would rise to 4.26 lakh. The opposition is counting on supporting many other smaller parties bringing the number closer to the NDA tally. In 2017, opposition candidate Meira Kumar, who fought against incumbent President Ramnath Kovind, received 3.67 lakh votes, the highest vote of any losing candidate, breaking a 50-year record.