Venkaiah Naidu’s candidature for vice-president is a boost for the BJP’s ‘mission south’
His is a name that is likely to be appealing to parties across the political spectrum.editorials Updated: Jul 18, 2017 20:28 IST
Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu’s candidature for the post of vice-president makes it clear that the BJP and its parent organisation are deeply invested in expanding the base of the party into South India. Mr. Naidu has been a champion of what is otherwise seen as a ‘North Indian’ party. That rare south Indian to support the cause of Hindi in a political milieu that sees the use of Hindi as an ‘imposition’, his elevation to vice-president would be another feather in the cap of the Sangh loyalist.
He has been a two-time MLA of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, a four-time member of the Rajya Sabha, and has held several important portfolios in government — having been the minister for rural development, urban development, housing and poverty alleviation, parliamentary affairs, and information and broadcasting under two prime ministers. His being from the south of India is likely to have figured prominently in deliberations; given the BJP’s ‘Mission South’ programme, part of BJP President Amit Shah’s masterplan for the party.
His long association with the RSS and the Sangh Parivar may also have been an important consideration. A member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), he has been involved with its student wing, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) since his college days. He is certainly better known than the presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, who has risen from relative obscurity. And the two together would make it the first time that the country would have both a president and vice-president from the Sangh Parivar. He has been a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even going so far as to say that ‘Modi’ stood for ‘Making of Developed India’. Mr. Naidu has served as the spokesperson of his party for many years, coming across as a non-confrontational person; and someone with the management abilities and political acumen to handle the pressures of the post.
Known for his alliterations, witticisms and quips, Mr. Naidu is likely to be appealing to parties across the political spectrum. Should he be elected to the post, a scenario that seems highly likely, his experience as a four-time MP of the Rajya Sabha will be useful as he takes on the Chairpersonship of the House.