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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu is vice president after cross-voting in record election

The NDA candidate won by the largest margin in 30 years in a vice presidential election that had the highest polling ever.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2017 08:54 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets vice president-elect Venkaiah Naidu at his residence in New Delhi on August 5, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets vice president-elect Venkaiah Naidu at his residence in New Delhi on August 5, 2017.(PTI)

Former Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu broke records on his way to getting elected India’s 13th Vice President on Saturday evening, defeating Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi by 272 votes amidst cross-voting and highest ever polling in VP election.

Naidu got 516 votes while Gandhi secured only 244, ensuring the NDA candidate the highest victory margin in 30 years.

BJP sources maintained that Naidu was expecting 502 votes but benefitted by about 20 votes due to cross-voting.

The late alignment of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) with the BJP in Bihar may have swelled Naidu’s margin while cross-voting, absent voters and invalid voters ate away Gandhi’s base. JDU had announced its support for Gandhi even after dumping the Congress and RJD in Bihar.

The former BJP veteran’s victory to the country’s second-highest Constitutional office was predicted to be a cakewalk, but he will face a bigger challenge as the chairman of Rajya Sabha, where the Congress-led Opposition, enjoying majority, has often forced adjournments, delaying the government’s legislative agenda.

Naidu struck a humble chord after the final result and highlighted agriculture — a much-debated issue in current politics. “Coming from an agricultural background, I never imagined I would be here. Agriculture has no proper voice in Indian polity,” he said.

He added that as Rajya Sabha chairman, he will “sincerely try to steer the functioning of the House to enable it to effectively further the larger interests of the nation.”

He also promised to uphold the Constitution and the high standards set by his predecessors.

The VP election result comes days after Ramnath Kovind’s victory in the Presidential election, signifying the stupendous growth of the BJP in electoral politics across states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed confidence that Naidu will “serve the nation as a diligent & dedicated Vice President, committed to the goal of nation-building”.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Gopalkrishna Gandhi, too, congratulated Naidu.

Of the 786 votes in the electoral college, 771 or 98.21% votes were cast, the highest ever for VP polls. Fifteen MPs did not cast their votes and 11 others’ were declared invalid.

Among the 15 MPs who didn’t vote, 3 belonged to the NDA while 11 were seen as Opposition supporters. Sources said an Independent MP, two IUML MPs, four Trinamool Congress and two Congress members and an NCP MP were among those who didn’t vote.

BJP’s Vijay Goel and Sanwarlal Jat were in hospital while Chedi Paswan was not allowed to vote due to an ongoing litigation. PMK’s Anbumani Ramdoss skipped voting.

There were four vacancies arising out of Vinod Khanna and P Govardhan Reddy’s death, countermanding of election in Anantnag and BSP chief Mayawati’s resignation.

BJP sources pointed out that while Ramnath Kovind got 522 votes, Naidu got 516 even after two big regional parties, JDU and BJD, switched sides.

First Published: Aug 05, 2017 23:51 IST

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