Con­grats, Vice-Pres­i­dent M Venka­iah Naidu

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Venka­iah Naidu’s elec­tion as the next vice-pres­i­dent had been a fore­gone con­clu­sion, but not his vic­tory mar­gin. As it tran­spired, Op­po­si­tion can­di­date Gopalkr­ishna Gandhi got 19 votes less than he was sup­posed to, that many mem­bers of the two Houses of Par­lia­ment who had pledged their sup­port to him end­ing up not vot­ing for him. Of equal con­cern, if of a dif­fer­ent kind, is the in­abil­ity of 11 Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to vote right, re­sult­ing in their votes be­ing in­valid. It is time the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion in­tro­duced elec­tronic vot­ing ma­chines in gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tions as well.

For the Op­po­si­tion, how big a set­back is their can­di­date’s loss and does it of­fer a fore­taste of how things will pan out in 2019? By other in­di­ca­tions, such as the suc­cess­ful and ag­gres­sive pol­i­tics of the BJP that has al­lowed it to add state af­ter ma­jor state to its kitty and in­stal its par­ty­men and pli­ant fel­low-trav­ellers as chief min­is­ters, it is well on its way to se­cure an­other man­date in the next gen­eral elec­tions. But to draw the same con­clu­sion from the vice-pres­i­den­tial elec­tion would be wrong. For one, the votes Gandhi got over­states the Op­po­si­tion’s abil­ity to op­pose the BJP in 2019. A united front at the level of MPs does not mean that they would be able to con­tain their nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion to fight one an­other, apart from the BJP, in the gen­eral elec­tions. For an­other, the Naidu tally over­states the BJP’s sup­port. Op­por­tunist MPs who want to be in the rul­ing party’s good books and re­sort to cross-vot­ing are not nec­es­sar­ily ex­pert poll fore­cast­ers who mod­u­late their vot­ing ac­cord­ing to which way the elec­toral wind blows.

Naidu has done well to de­clare his in­ten­tion to be non-par­ti­san as vice-chair­man of the Up­per House. Ap­pear­ances mat­ter, too, in a democ­racy.

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