Room No 29 of Parliament House is once again at the centre of Presidential election formalities. This is the office of the Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha P C Mody. He has been appointed Returning Officer of the Presidential election by the Election Commission. The Secretaries General of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha discharge the duties of the Presidential election Returning Officer on alternative occasions.
At the time of the election of President Ram Nath Kovind in 2017, the Lok Sabha Secretary-General performed the Returning Officer’s role. Room No 29 is close to the Rajya Sabha Chamber.
The Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha has received the nomination papers of the NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu, an Odisha tribal leader and former Governor of Jharkhand. On Monday, Mody is expected to receive the nomination papers of the “common candidate” of the Opposition parties, former Finance and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha.
As the Returning Officer, the Rajya Sabha Secretary-General will also declare the result of the Presidential election and issue a necessary certificate. The coming four dates are important: 29 June (last date for nominations); 30 June (date for scrutiny of nominations); 2 July (the last date for withdrawal of candidatures); and 18 July (the date on which a poll shall, if necessary, be taken).
There is an air of excitement outside Room No 29, ever since the nominations began on 15 June. Security is tight. Several bonafide voters from different parts of the country have filed their nomination papers for the election.
In the absence of Mody, for any reason, the nomination papers can be filed before Assistant Returning Officers Mukul Pande and Surendra Kumar Tripathi, OSD, and Joint Secretary, respectively, in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Copies of the candidates’ nomination papers have been pinned on the Notice Boards of the three officials.