The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today announced the name of its Union minister and trouble-shooter and firefighter M. Venkaiah Naidu as its candidate for the post of vice president of India. He will now take on the opposition candidate, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, whose name was announced by a clutch of 18 parties on July 13. The decision was taken at BJP’s parliamentary board meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended among others by party president Amit Shah, who announced the decision.
While there was speculation all through the day that Naidu’s name has been finalised by the party for the post, the party leader from “south of the Vindhya’s”, who because of his rich experience as a member of parliament also became the party’s choice for the post, had himself rebuffed the idea saying he was “not aspiring to become anything”.
But the party leaders had other ideas for him. BJP, which is now headed towards having its leaders in all the four top key posts of president, vice president, prime minister and Lok Sabha, had been looking for an experienced leader as its candidate because the vice president is also the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha and is responsible for the conduct of its business.
Naidu, who is known for his one liners and serious attempt at humour, hails from Vellore in Andhra Pradesh. A two-time member of Andhra Pradesh assembly, he has been a member of Rajya Sabha from Karnataka thrice and at present represents Rajasthan in the upper house. In the Modi cabinet, Naidu holds several important portfolios including Housing and Urban Development and Affairs Information and Broadcasting.
It is probably for this reasons that Modi described the decision of Naidu being chose as the party nominee for the post of vice president as his personal loss of a cabinet minister. On several occasions in the last three years, Naidu has used his personal rapport with the opposition parties to defuse the situation in parliament.
A graduate in law, Naidu has also been a member and chairperson of several parliamentary committees and is well-versed with the functioning of Parliament. In the party too, he has held important positions. Having been imprisoned during Emergency, he went on to become the youth wing president of Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh upon his release in 1977 and in a political journey spanning nearly four decades rose up the ranks to become BJP’s national president in 2002 and in 2004.
The election for the post of vice president is on August 5 and the decision will be announced on the same day. In this election only the 790 members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, including the nominated members, can cast their vote. The NDA has a strength of 550 in both the houses. The last date of filing nominations is tomorrow.