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Political parties which issue directions to their members to vote in a particular manner in presidential elections can face penal action, the Election Commission said on Thursday.
It, however, said parties are free to canvas or seek votes of the electors for any candidate or request them or appeal to them to refrain from voting.
Since there is no whip and the vote in the presidential poll is through a secret ballot, voters are free to decide on whether they want to cast their vote or not.
The set of clarifications from the Commission came after it was approached by some voters who wanted to know whether a member of a political party voting in defiance of the party's decision would attract disqualification on the ground of defection or the party would be liable to any penalty for asking their members to vote in a particular manner.
The EC said parties which issue whip or give directions can face action under section 171C of the IPC dealing with "voluntarily interferes or attempts to interfere with the free exercise of any electoral right".
The total strength of the electoral college which votes to elect the President comprises all elected MPs and members of legislative assemblies of all states and UTs of Delhi and Puducherry.
The total comes to 10,98,903 votes with each MP carrying a vote value of 708. The vote weight of an MLA depends on the population of the state he or she represents.
A candidate needs 50 per cent plus votes to win the poll. Halfway mark comes at 5,49,452.
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