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Ready for new journey, says vice-presidential candidate Venkaiah Naidu

On July 17, the NDA named him as the candidate for the vice-presidential polls, pitting the veteran against Opposition’s Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2017 07:08 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Venkaiah Naidu,Vice-presidential candidate,India's vice-president
NDA's vice-presidential candidate Venkaiah Naidu (L), with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) and BJP president Amit Shah, files his nomination papers at the parliament in New Delhi.(PTI file)

After all these years, when Pranab Mukherjee called him “Venkaiah ji” in their last meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan, M Venkaiah Naidu was surprised.

Naidu, set to contest polls for India’s next vice-president, told Mukherjee, “Pranab da, you have always fondly called me as ‘Venkaiah’. Even if I am on a new journey, please don’t call me anything else.”

Naidu and his wife Usha had plans to go back to Andhra Pradesh, their native land, after 2019. But on July 17, the NDA named him as the candidate for the vice-presidential polls, pitting the veteran against Opposition’s Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

“I love all challenges,” Naidu said. As vice-president, he will also be the chairman of the Rajya Sabha where the ruling dispensation is in a minority and often faces severe resistance from a united Opposition. It’s a tough job for Naidu.

In contrast with the time that lies ahead, the past few days have been pretty ominous he said.

During his early days in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a busy Naidu could get time to change dresses only at airports and train stations. “I remember in 24 hours, he covered rallies in four states,” BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli said about his mentor.

Naidu’s new book, titled “Tireless voice, relentless Journey,” also reflects that hectic life.

30, APJ Abdul Kalam Road, his residence for 18 years is decorated simply but beautifully by Rangolis. It too, underlines the story about Naidu’s guts. “Nobody wanted to come here. P Chidambaram lost elections while staying here. I liked this place which is otherwise considered inauspicious,” Naidu said. The house has a movie hall and a badminton court.

“I play every day with my cook, driver and personal assistant,” quipped Naidu.

Naidu loved his days in Parliament as well, especially as the Parliamentary affairs minister. “Once I gave a long speech on Hindutva. It went viral. I emphasised that Hindutva is not a narrow, religious identity,” he said.

Naidu remembers what is considered by many as the golden rule of Parliamentary process: “Let the government propose, Opposition oppose and House dispose.”

The former union minister is known for his witty one-liners like “Modi stands for Making of Developed India”.

Would his wit dry up in the Constitutional position? “Let’s see,” Naidu smiles.

First Published: Aug 04, 2017 07:07 IST