The Congress is confident that the UPA-Left vice-presidential nominee Hamid Ansari will win with a convincing majority and cracks will again show up in the NDA-Third Front alliance, as happened during the presidential elections. The ruling party hopes to get the support of 450 of the 782 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, who constitute the electoral college, during the vice-presidential poll on August 10. Counting of votes will be done on the same day.
To drive the advantage home, Congress strategists are trying to ensure that the divisions that surfaced in the NDA and the Third Front during the presidential elections are deepened. It helps the Congress' purpose that the three-member JD(S) would maintain equidistance from all three fronts in the election.
Besides the JD(S), there are another 20 parties that have not yet committed their votes. These include the Telengana Rashtra Samiti, the Manipur National Front, the Nagaland People'sFront, and 10 unattached, independent and nominated members.
While the BJP was discomfited by the reluctance of allies like the Shiv Sena and the Trinamool to spell out their stand, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's dinner on Wednesday for MPs backing Ansari's candidature provided an opportunity to the ruling combine to present a picture of unity and solidarity in the same manner as it did during Pratibha Patil's election as president. Every alliance partner and supporting party, including the BSP and the DMK, turned up for the occasion, for which Ansari too was present.
The ruling combine already has 441 committed votes and is trying to either neutralize or wean away some votes in the NDA, including those in the BJD and the JD(U) during the V-P elections on August 10.
But to ensure that they do not make any mistake while voting, Sonia took it upon herself once again to urge her MPs — who met her in batches — to be vigilant in this regard.
A vote becomes invalid if a member overwrites or crosses the number “I” while marking his preference and placing it in the box. All MPs of the UPA and Left have been advised against marking their second and third preference vote.