Can the BJP appoint the next President of India without the Shiv Sena? The BJP's alliance partner in Maharashtra has given very little out on whether it would back Ram Nath Kovind, the BJP's choice for Rashtrapati Bhavan.
With a total vote pool of 25,893 in the electoral college, the Shiv Sena is a major player. It is expected that the Shiv Sena would take a decision on who it would back on July 17.
The opposition is contemplating naming Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar. The Shiv Sena is likely to lean towards this candidate considering he is both Dalit and also from Maharashtra. It may be recalled that the Shiv Sena had ditched the NDA and voted for Prathibha Patil.
After the BJP announced the name of Kovind, the Sena chief Udhav Thackerey said that if this name has been put forward to garner Dalit votes, then the party is not interested. We shall decide on the issue today. It is however unclear if the Sena will take a call today or wait till Thursday when the opposition announces its candidate.
The Sena's numbers in the electoral college:
For the NDA to elect a candidate of its choice the votes of the Shiv Sena are crucial. The total vote pool of the Shiv Sena is at 25,893.
The NDA given the current status and strength of the electoral college may fall short by 20,000 votes in the Presidential polls. The BJP will depend on the votes from Tamil Nadu and Odisha. The AIADMK and the BJD have indicated support to the NDA. Nitish Kumar too has said he would support the NDA. However a lot would depend on who the opposition will field.
If the Shiv Sena does not support the BJP, then the party would fall short by 20,000 votes. In the 288 member Maharashtra assembly the BJP has 122 MLAs apart from the support of 12 others.
The SS has 63 MLAs. The value of a vote of an MLA in Maharashtra is 175. This means the value of votes of the BJP with the support of the Shiv Sena is at 34,475. The vote value of the Congress and its allies is at 15,575. If the SS decides to support the Congress then the vote value would be at 26,000.
From Maharashtra there are 67 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 19 in the Rajya Sabha. The vote value of each MP is at 708. The BJP and SS together have 52 MPs and the total vote share is at 36,816. The Congress and allies from Maharashtra have a total value vote of 10,620. If the SS decides to go with the Congress then the vote value would be at 25,488.