The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The catch in the cross-vote hunt
- What Kalam or a common Opposition candidate will need to win

New Delhi, June 21: Without bothering to wait for A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to take strike, Sharad Pawar declared today with a dismissive air that the “match is over”.

Pawar knows his politics — presumably some cricket as well since he is the BCCI boss — and he must have figured out what it will take Kalam to pull past Pratibha Patil in the unlikely event of the President entering the fray for a second stint.

If Kalam is hoping for an upset, here are some combinations he needs to rustle up: at least 116 UPA MLAs from his home state Tamil Nadu. In Pawar and Pratibha’s Maharashtra, Kalam will have to have the vote of one more MLA.

Or he needs similar numbers from other states whose legislators have high-value votes.

These are not absolute figures, but an indication of what Kalam — or a common NDA-third front candidate — will require to wreck the calculations of the Congress-led UPA, Left and the Bahujan Samaj Party which together command 570,000 votes in an electoral college of 10,98,882 votes.

Provided, of course, the combined kitty of the BJP-led NDA and the newly formed third front — 4,60,970 — remains intact. And the remaining 67,912 — belonging to Independents and others — root for the “people’s President”.

As of now, Pratibha Patil, the UPA-Left-BSP nominee, enjoys a cushion of about 20,000 votes over the half-way mark of 5,49,441.

Although the odds are loaded heavily against Kalam, there could be some cross-voting if he takes the plunge. Even then, Kalam still needs to get at least 20,560 votes from the UPA-Left-BSP’s kitty for another five years at Raisina Hills.

The equation, however, is not as simple as it looks.

While the 776 MPs from both Houses have a vote value of 708 each, the 4,120 MLAs, who together account for 5,49,474 votes, have different vote values calculated on the basis of the population of their states according to the 1971 census.

Thus, an MLA in Uttar Pradesh has a vote value of 208, but his counterpart in Sikkim has the lowest vote value of seven.

MLAs of Tamil Nadu, a state many believe could see cross-voting if Kalam joins the fray, command 176 votes each. The southern state, where the DMK, Congress, CPM and the CPI account for about 160 of the 234 MLAs in the electoral college, has a total vote value of 41,184.

In UPA-ruled Maharashtra, Pratibha’s home state, the 288 MLAs have a vote value of 175 each. But Marathi pride could come into play, especially with the Opposition Shiv Sena, which has 62 MLAs.

Rajasthan, where each of the 200 MLAs has a vote value of 129, is yet another state many see to be on the boil. While Pratibha has been its governor, her husband, Devi Singh Shekhawat, is from the state.

Whether Kalam joins the fray or Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is also from Rajasthan, decides to challenge Patil, observers expect some amount of cross-voting in the state.

However, if there is no massive cross-voting, Pratibha appears set to become the country’s first woman President.

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