New Delhi: When lawmakers across the country vote to elect the 14th Indian President on Monday, a number of firsts will greet them.
The Election Commission of India has taken a slew of initiatives to ensure fool-proof voting, and chief among them is the use of specially-procured pens with indelible violet ink.
The special pens with violet ink have been given unique serial numbers and have been supplied by the Election Commission to Parliament and state Assemblies where voting will be held.
These have been procured from Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited which supplies indelible ink for voting.
Before entering the voting chamber, a polling official will collect any other pen being carried in by the lawmakers and will instead give the MPs and MLAs the special violet pen to mark the ballot.
After voting, the lawmakers will have to return the special pen back to the official.
Marking the ballot with any other pen will lead to the vote being invalidated during the counting of votes on July 20 under Rule 31(1)(d) of Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Rules, 1974.
Another first in this presidential election is the special posters being put up that give out the Dos and Don’ts for voting.
A total of 4,896 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs — are eligible to cast their ballot. MLCs of states with legislative council are not part of the Electoral College.
While the Lok Sabha Speaker, an elected member, can vote, the two nominated members in the Lower House from the Anglo-Indian community cannot. Twelve nominated members in Rajya Sabha are also ineligible.
Since the election is through a secret ballot, the parties cannot issue a whip to their members to vote for a particular candidate.
This time, the Lok Sabha secretary general is the returning officer. Last time, it was the secretary general of Rajya Sabha.
In the electoral arithmetic, NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, a former Bihar Governor, has a distinct advantage over his rival Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha Speaker.