The process to elect the next President gathered momentum today with the Election Commission announcing July 19 as the poll date amid further indications of Pranab Mukherjee being the UPA nominee.
As per the schedule, the next occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan would be known on July 22, two days before the term of the incumbent Pratibha Patil ends.
Announcing the poll schedule, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said the notification for the poll will be issued on June 16. Last date of nomination will be June 30 and nominations can be withdrawn by July 4.
Polling, if necessary, will take place on July 19 and counting of votes will take place on July 22, Mr Sampath told a crowded press conference.
Polling will be done through paper ballot and electronic voting machines will not be used. The Election Commission, in consultation with the Central government, has decided to appoint the Secretary General to the Rajya Sabha as Returning Officer for the election.
Assistant returning officers will be appointed in all state capitals, including NCT of Delhi and Union Territory of Puducherry, for making poll arrangements.
The nomination paper of a candidate must be delivered to the returning officer at New Delhi either by the candidate or any of his proposers or seconders between 11 AM and 3 PM. A nomination has to be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and an equal number of electors as seconders.
Mr Sampath said an elector can subscribe to only one nomination paper of a candidate as either a proposer or a seconder and the security deposit for the election is Rs 15,000, required to be made along with the nomination paper.
Polling will be held in Parliament House for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs and respective state assemblies for elected MLAs.
The CEC said there is a provision for postal ballot for only those electors in preventive detention.
"The Election Commission is mandated to ensure that the election to the office of President of India, which is the highest elective office in the nation, must be a free and fair election and the Commission is taking all necessary steps for discharging its constitutional responsibility," Sampath said.
He said "Article 55 (3) of the Constitution provides that the election shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot".
The CEC said some senior government officers have been appointed by the commission as observers in places of polling.