NEW DELHI: At a time when the ruling BJP is looking to overcome arithmetic limitations in Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Sherpa’ M Venkaiah Naidu has been chosen as NDA’s Vice Presidential candidate. Naidu’s candidature also signifies the BJP’s interest in spreading its footprint down South.Though Modi said he was not keen on sparing any of his Cabinet Ministers for President’s or Vice President’s post, sources said the Prime Minister sees Naidu and his “craft of countering political adversaries” as the solution to negotiate the Rajya Sabha maze, where most of government’s legislations are getting stuck due to the NDA’s lack of numbers. The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and presides over its sessions.
Modi stressed Naidu’s background as ‘son of a farmer’ and his ‘rich Parliamentary’ experience and said he would be an efficient Chairman of the Upper House. “I know @MVenkaiahNaidu Garu for years. Have always admired his hardwork & tenacity. A fitting candidate for the office of Vice President,” he tweeted after the Parliamentary Board meeting of the BJP.
At a time when Amit Shah is focusing on a major expansionary initiative, Naidu’s nomination, the saffron outfit hopes, will improve its prospects in the south. His election, the party hopes, would address the lack of southern representation in the top-four protocol posts — President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker.
All members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha constitute the electoral college for Vice Presidential polls that would be held on August 5. Even the two nominated members in the Lower House and 12 in Upper House would be given an opportunity to cast their votes, unlike in Presidential elections. The results would be declared on the same day.
BJP is relying on the support of 550 MPs out of the total strength of 798 for Naidu to easily take over the post. However, the Opposition said it would fight the battle on ‘ideological grounds’ and has fielded former West Bengal Governor and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gandhi for the post.
Naidu has held key portfolios at Centre, including ministries of Information and Broadcasting, Urban Development. He’s likely to file nomination today.