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

Sunday Express - - NEWS - SANTWANA BHAT­TACHARYA @ New Delhi

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 |

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