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What would President Mukherjee do in case of hung Parliament?
As per media reports the honorable President of India would seek letters of support from potential allies in case the verdict in the 2014 general elections is not clear-cut. There is no question of any pre-poll alliance other than the NDA getting a simple majority.

The criteria for asking the future Prime Minister of India to form the government in New Delhi should be to see which party would get mandate in either absolute term or relative term or both. The fact is that Indian National Congress (INC) had got 206 seats in the last general elections but this time it would be no way near it. The fact is that whether the BJP-led NDA gets an absolute majority or not, the INC is most certainly going to lose this general election. And from many perspectives the BJP-led NDA is going to win the elections in probably both absolute and relative terms.

But as per the norms laid out by the Raisina Hill, the INC or the Third Front supported by it could still form the next government if it is able to prove majority in the Lower House of the Parliament to the President Pranab Mukherjee and his office. It amounts to a bad interpretation of law as it is practiced but still this is neatly possible in some remote sense.

In all likelihood the INC would not like to claim forming the next government in case the BJP-led NDA does not get a majority and is not able to muster enough support from potential allies; from inside or outside, by extending the NDA to get a simple absolute majority. Then in that case the INC can offer written support to the Third Front, if there is anything of the kind exists.

But its actual course of action would depend on what the tally for the INC in the Lower House of the Parliament is. Below 125 mark, the INC would like to sit quietly in opposition. But not otherwise and it may play spoilsport to the BJP chances to form the government. But in case the BJP-led NDA does not get absolute majority and somehow the INC decides to sit in opposition the decks would be distinctly cleared for the BJP-led NDA to form the next government.

President Mukherjee should be judicious and just in deciding which alliance should form the government and should not necessarily insist on that alliance proving majority on the paper. In all likelihood people have voted for the BJP-led NDA, if not that decisively. And the picture will become crystal clear on the day of counting. Therefore, Mr. Mukherjee could ask the leader of the single largest party or pre-poll alliance to stake claim to form the government and prove the actual majority in the Lower House of the Parliament.

At the worst there may be attempt for horse-trading but then there is nothing new and such practice is normal as per Indian standards in present circumstances. The fact is that Mr. Mukherjee should first see, through tally, mandate each major party gets and then should invite leader of the single largest party or pre-poll alliance to form the government in case the NDA fails to get an absolute majority. He should not worry about the other aspects of the process. But in case a party or alliance proves to him a majority on paper then in that case President Mukherjee would be left with no option but to invite its leader to form the government and seek mandate of the Parliament.

Now there are both relative and absolute ways to judge the popular mandate the BJP and the INC get. If there are significant upward and downward shifts in the number of seats and possibly in the vote share of both national parties as compared to previous general election then the party which crosses a threshold mark should be invited to form the next government. That threshold mark could be 180 seats for both the BJP and the INC and this just cannot be a bad choice. Both the national parties cannot cross that mark simultaneously as they have swapping voters along with direct two-way fight in many of the constituencies. In case of equal standing, the only proper route for both alliances for claiming their stakes to form the next government in New Delhi would be to prove majority on paper to the President?s office.

In absolute terms if an alliance gets more than or equal to 90% of a simple majority in terms of seats, i.e. around 243 seats, but not an absolute simple majority, then that alliance should be invited to form the next government. The rest maximum 10% can be left to negotiations and hard-bargaining. In all likelihood that alliance would be the NDA. While the President?s job is to make sure that due process is followed and all probable get fair chance he cannot act as an academic.

Promises, offers of promotion and packages, lure and even offers of cash are, as per Indian standards, very legitimate means for a party to secure support from lawmakers. Sure, should the government formation efforts happen nicely and decently then it is the best way but even otherwise the efforts would take place. I am sure President Mukherjee is very judicious, honest and just statesman and he would do his stuff in the best possible traditions of Raisina Hill. I do not think that there is fair chance for any other alliance different from the NDA to form the next government at Union level. But still exit polls can go wrong and one should wait for the final results to come by.

Let there be as little bureaucratic hurdles to the government formation at Center as possible. Let the most dominating dominates. Let equilibrium evolve as per the diktats of political markets. Let the due comprehensive process take place but only in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament. Let true selfishness guide all stakeholders without them hurting national interests. Let the laws of haat prevail.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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