Presidential poll: How India has chosen its Presidents in the past

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It is almost certain that NDA's candidate for the Presidential Election 2017 Ram Nath Kovind will succeed Pranab Mukherjee as the President of India.

UPA's candidate Meira Kumar might lose the election when little less than 5,000 legislators cast their votes today, but what seems rather interesting is in the past two decades have more or less seen direct fight between the candidates of the ruling party or coalition and the contestant from the opposition block.

Presidential poll: How India has chosen its Presidents in the past

[Electoral College: Here is how the next President of India will be elected]

A look back

The Presidential Election 2017 is the fifteenth of such elections to the office of the President in India. The earlier elections to this office were held in 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012.

The experience of the first five Presidential Elections till 1969 showed that some contenders stood as candidates for the office of the President without even a remote chance of getting elected. Miffed with certain people taking advantage of the constitutional provision to make election to the highest office an occasion to gain easy popularity, the Election Commission proposed certain changes, which the government and Parliament approved.

There were five candidates in 1952 Presidential Election. The number reduced to three in 1957 and 1962. But, the number of contestants increased surprisingly to 17 in the fourth Presidential Election in 1967.

1974

On the basis of the recommendations of the Election Commission, Parliament enacted the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections (Amendment) Act, 1974.

According to new rules of the Presidential Election, the nomination paper of a Presidential candidate were to subscribed by at least 10 electors as proposers and 10 electors as seconders.

The provision for a security deposit of Rs 2,500 (then a big amount) was made. Now, the election could be challenged only before the Supreme Court and that too by any contesting candidate or by minimum 20 electors joined together as petitioners.

After the rules of the Presidential Election were changed in 1974, the number of contestants declined from 15 to just two.

1997

An Ordinance was promulgated on June 5, 1997 to amend the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952. It was later converted into an Act.

The central government further amended these rules by a Ministry of Law and Justice notification in June, 1997. Some of the critical amendments in the law are:

  • A prospective presidential candidate was now required to get his nomination paper signed by at least 50 electors as proposers and at least 50 other electors as seconders.
  • In the case of prospective Vice-Presidential candidate, the nomination paper should be signed by at least 20 electors as proposers and at least 20 other electors as seconders.
  • No elector shall sign whether as proposers or as seconder more than one set of nomination papers at the same election and if he does so, his signature shall be inoperative on any nomination paper other than the one first delivered.
  • Not more than four nomination papers can be filed by or on behalf of a candidate or received by the Returning Officer.
  • A prospective candidate was now required to deposit a sum of Rs 15,000 as security.
  • The election can be challenged in the Supreme Court by a candidate or at least 20 electors within 30 days of declaration of election results. In the case of the election to the office of the Vice-President, it can be challenged by a candidate or at least 10 electors.

Since the new rules of the Presidential Election were notified, all such polls have been direct contest between candidates of the ruling and Opposition camps.

Quick check

A total of 17 candidates contested 1967 Presidential Election.

Rules of Presidential Election were changed in 1974 checking non-serious candidature.

Another change of rules happened in 1997

OneIndia News (Source for data and rules: the Election Commission of India)

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