Unknown 17 emphasise Naidu’s win
Venkaiah Naidu becomes the Vice President with highest number of votes in 33 years, getting 17 more than expected; Congress candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi gets 244 votes; speculations rife that JD(U) voted for NDA candidate
It’s an honour for me to become Vice President from a family of an ordinary farmer. This speaks for the beauty & strength of our democracy Venkaiah Naidu, Vice-President of India
Either there are secret admirers of Venkaiah Naidu’s pun-filled speech who want him to preside over the Rajya Sabha with his trademark humour, or some of those who had pledged their votes to Gopalkrishna Gandhi but did not act on their word for political reasons. Anyway, after the votes were counted, it was the BJP leader from Andhra Pradesh who had come up trumps.
It was not an unexpected result. With the BJP having a clear majority in the Lower House and now being the single largest party even in the Rajya Sabha, the NDA’s path was clear in the vice-presidential election. The twist, however, lies in the details - - and how it ended up getting 17 more votes than expected from unknown quarters.
Venkaiah, admittedly a popular man with a degree of cross-party appeal, polled 516 votes. This points to silent faultlines within the tentative UPA camp. Although in a secret ballot it’s impossible to say who exactly cross-voted, speculation centred around JD(U), which had declared it would vote for Gandhi, shifting from its pro-NDA stance in the presidential poll.
The Congress’ calculation was Gandhi would poll 266 votes - - counting JD(U)’s 12 and BJD’s 29 MPs, another party that had voted with the NDA in the Presidential election and had this time pledged to back Gandhi. (Naveen Patnaik and Gopal Gandhi were classmates in St Stephen’s.)
Out of the 266, there were nine UPA absentees. Two of them were from IUML - - P.K. Kunhalikutty and Abdul Wahab reached the poll- ing centre (room no. 63 of Parliament) after voting was wrapped up because their flight from Kerala was delayed.
There were four missing from TMC - - Kunal Ghosh (who is suspended from the party), Abhishek Banerjee (who is in Hyderabad for an eye surgery), Pratima Mandal (family emergency) and actor Tapas Pal (who is in custody.) One MP from NCP (Uday Raj Bhonsle) too did not turn up.
From the Congress, two were absent: Mausam Noor (because of dysentery) and Ranee Narah (as yet unexplained). From the BJP too, Sports Minister Vijay Goel (who is hospitalised) and Sanwarlal Jat (also ailing) could not make it. PMK’s Anbumoni Ramadoss and Nabakumar Sarania, an Independent from Kokrajhar, Assam, too were missing. So was Anu Agha, a nominated member from UPA era.
The BJP’s tight management improved performance too. Only four invalid votes were cast, as against the 17 cast during the Presidential poll. The Congress camp is claiming an uptick in its support as compared to its performance in the Presidential poll. Venkaiah, who received cross-party tributes and congratulations, is the recipient of the highest votes in 33 years.
“With all humility, I express my gratitude to every MP who supported my candidature cutting across party lines,” he tweeted after the victory. “It’s an honour for me to become Vice President from a family of an ordinary farmer. This Speaks for the beauty & strength of our democracy. I promise to uphold the Constitution and the high standards set by my esteemed predecessors.”
Venkaiah Naidu with wife Usha after he was elected as the Vice President of India in New Delhi on Saturday |