Presidential elections in India: a foregone conclusion?

India elections
The woman on the Delhi omnibus © Hung-Chin Chen

Voting has begun today to elect a new President of India.  The winner will replace Pranab Mukherjee, who has held office since 25 July 2012.

Dalit candidates

Principal candidates for the position of 14th President of India include Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar, both prominent members of the Dalit community.  If either candidate is elected to the role of President they will be India’s second Dalit president after Kocheril Raman Narayan, who served between 1997 and 2002.

Mr. Kovind, who until very recently has been Governor of Bihar, is seen as the overwhelming favourite to take up the role.

The role of the Indian President

Despite being the Head of State of India and also Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, today the role of President of India is largely seen as a ceremonial one.

Indian presidents are not elected by the Indian public, but by an electoral college comprised of members of parliament and legislative assemblies.

The duty of the President is to defend the constitution and the law of India and, alongside the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice, the role completes a triumvirate of power.

Current election

The results of the election are expected to be announced on 20 July, although it is reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already offered his congratulations to Mr. Kovind in light of the candidate securing two-thirds of the electoral college support, and has tweeted his praise for the dignified fashion in which the elections have been conducted.

Following recent election surprises in the UK and the US, it seems unlikely that there will be a similar upset in India.

Want to learn more?

The South Asia Institute at SOAS University of London offers an MSc in Contemporary India Studies, which provides an exciting opportunity to study present day India.

Students on the course will be introduced to recent topics, methods and debates in the study of India; will have the chance to pursue individual research interests; and will have the opportunity to take up language training in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Punjabi or Urdu.

The course also offers the option of a self-funded two-to-four-week work placement in either India or London, in the fields of NGOs and Development; Business and Economics; or Media and Journalism.

Find out more



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