Vice presidential election: BJP picks Venkaiah Naidu to face Oppn candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu is set to become India’s next vice president, having been named by the Bharatiya Janata Party as the ruling alliance’s candidate on Monday.
He will go into the August 5 election with a clear advantage over the opposition’s candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
The vice president is selected by an electoral college of 790 parliamentarians from both houses, where the National Democratic Alliance — the BJP and its partners — form a majority with 410 members.
“He is one of the most senior and experienced leaders across party lines,” BJP chief Amit Shah said after a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board that cleared his name. “He has more than 25 years of experience in public life.”
Late on Monday night, Naidu resigned from the urban development, housing and poverty alleviation, and information & broadcasting ministries in the Union government. He will also have to resign from the Upper House to run for the post of vice president.
“The BJP is my mother. I feel like I am leaving my mother,” Naidu told Hindustan Times.
According to sources, Modi spoke to JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, Telugu Desam Party president Chandrababu Naidu and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar for support. Kumar has already pledged support to Gandhi.
Two sets of nomination papers in support of Naidu’s candidature will be filed tomorrow — the last day of nomination. Prime Minister Modi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will propose Naidu’s name.
In addition to Naidu’s long legislative experience – he is a four-term member of Rajya Sabha –it is the BJP’s expansion plans for the Southern India that is understood to have influenced the decision in favour of the Andhra politician.
Opposition parties have managed to block several bills in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority. The ruling alliance was, therefore, keen on nominating someone with experience who can help steer bills by building consensus in the Upper House.
The NDA’s relationship with current chairman Hamid Ansari was never warm.
The BJP will become the single largest party in Rajya Sabha next year when elections for 58 RS berths, including 10 from Uttar Pradesh, are held in May.
Before Monday’s meeting, Naidu met Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Shah in the morning and they communicated to him the party’s decision. A formal announcement was made after the BJP’s parliamentary board meeting.
The PM, sources told HT, told Naidu that letting him go was a personal loss, but the party wanted to benefit from his long legislative experience in the upper house of which he will become the chairman after being elected as the vice president.
The Andhra politician, sources said, was reluctant to take up the job that will mean an end to his active political career. But Modi eventually persuaded him, they said.
Naidu was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. A student of law in college, Naidu is the second BJP leader, after Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to occupy the post of the vice president. He became the BJP’s president in 2003 at an early age of 54.
Naidu was associated with the RSS’s student wing in his early days, and served as the president of Andhra University Student’s Union. He was elected to the legislative assembly of Andhra Pradesh in 1978 and, again, in 1983.
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