Oppn names Margaret Alva as Vice President candidate
Alva has been a parliamentarian for five terms, served as governor of Rajasthan, Goa, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, and been a Union minister.
Former Union minister and governor Margaret Alva will be the opposition’s candidate for the upcoming vice-presidential election, senior leaders announced on Sunday.
Alva has been a parliamentarian for five terms, served as governor of Rajasthan, Goa, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, and been a Union minister of parliamentary affairs, youth and sports, women and child development, and science and technology.
While 18 political parties supported Alva’s candidature at a meeting held at Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s residence, Trinamool Congress party, the second-largest opposition force in Parliament, was conspicuous in its absence.
TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has called a meeting of MPs on July 21 to decide the party’s plan of action for the vice-presidential polls, a leader of her party said, declining to be named.
At the meeting called by Pawar, two more names had come up for consideration, according to a few leaders. Some leaders proposed former chief election commissioner SY Qureshi’s name. Pawar informed all leaders that Banerjee had suggested Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti’s name.
“Most of the opposition parties have extended their support to our candidate. We tried to get in touch with Mamata Banerjee, but could not get through as she was busy with a council,” Pawar said after the meeting. “We also contacted Arvind Kejriwal. His decision is yet to come,”
Alva temporarily fell out with the Congress after she alleged that election tickets were being sold during the 2008 assembly elections in Karnataka, her home state.
In Sunday’s meeting, Pawar and Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury proposed that a woman leader from southern India, and preferably from a minority community, should be fielded as the joint candidate.
At this stage, one of the senior leaders suggested Qureshi’s name. He was told that Qureshi had been offered the candidature but the talks were not fruitful. When Pawar mentioned Banerjee’s choice of Mufti, nearly all leaders agreed, but a senior non-Congress leader wanted to know whether preliminary discussions have been held with her.
As no one could confirm whether she was sounded out for a possible candidature, it was pointed out that with just two days left for the nomination process to end, it might be difficult for her to prepare afresh.
Yechury proposed the name of Alva as a candidate, leaving some leaders surprised. A Congress leader cautioned Yechury that it should not be a repeat show of what happened in the presidential election when three proposed candidates refused to fight. Pawar and Yechury assured the others that they have held preliminary talks with Alva.
Alva, not an active Congress leader, was contacted over phone. The mobile phone was put on speaker mode so that everyone can hear that she has accepted the offer.
“Alva said, if you all agree, I am ready for this political fight,” a leader present in the meeting said, seeking anonymity. During the discussions, it was clarified that the opposition has no chance of winning the vice-presidential election, but there must be a political fight against the ruling National Democratic Alliance.
With Alva’s confirmation in hand, various leaders wanted to know TMC’s position on her candidature. Pawar tried to call Banerjee but she was busy in a meeting. The leaders waited for half an hour to reach her.
“The Opposition parties, unitedly, have declared @alva_margaret ji as the candidate for Vice President. A former Governor and union Minister, Smt Alva believes steadfastly in the values and ideals of our Constitution and will fight hard to protect these value,” tweeted Kharge.
“Margaret Alva, former Governor, former Union Minister, long time MP and very distinguished representative of India’s wonderful diversity is the common Opposition candidate for Vice-President,” tweeted Congress’ communication chief Jairam Ramesh after the meeting.