The day was not remarkable for it was marked out for — the filing of nomination papers by the two VP candidates, Venkaiah Naidu and Gopal Krishna Gandhi. BSP chief Mayawati’s reawakening to her Dalit cause stole the thunder.
Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley lined up for Venkaiah Naidu, and Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Yadav, Sitaram Yechury and Derek O’Brien (the Bengal rivals sat next to one another) for Gopal Gandhi.
Certain of a win, Venkaiah Naidu promised to work for democratic principles; and Gandhi said his contest was not against any individual or party, but a common citizen’s response to the current political climate. Veterans L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were present but were visibly downcast as the PM chatted with Shah and Naidu.
Venkaiah Naidu got rather emotional about having to quit the BJP to take up the new office, but it was Mayawati’s dramatic resignation that seized the narrative.
Mayawati does as Ambedkar did
Upset that deputy chairman P J Kurien refused to give her more time to speak on Dalit atrocities in Saharanpur, Mayawati walked out of the Rajya Sabha. She put in her papers invoking Ambedkar’s decision to quit as law minister in Nehru Cabinet. This even after the business advisory committee slotted a short-duration discussion on mob violence on Wednesday. Leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad latter tried to persuade Mayawati to reconsider. But Maya retorted: “You do your politics, let me do mine!”
Bonhomie across OPS-EPS divide
The rancour in the house did not dampen spirits though. MPs chatted warmly. Venkaiah Naidu tapped Ahmed Patel’s shoulder and asked, “Are you with me or against me?” The PM stopped to chat up B S Yeddyruppa while passing through Central Hall. Even AIADMK leaders were seen discussing Tamil politics across the OPS-EPS divide.
Jay Panda, Naveen Patnaik again at odds
BJD MP Jay Panda was again caught straying from the party line. He had tweeted his support to Venkaiah Naidu minutes after the latter’s candidature was announced. On Tuesday, Naveen Patnaik did the opposite, pledging the BJD’s support to Gopal Gandhi. Naveen Patnaik and Gandhi were classmates at St Stephen’s. Unable to get in touch with Patnaik, Gandhi called up Bhatrihari Mahatab to express his gratitude. Meanwhile, Panda is said to be preparing to take his pledge to Naidu. No cross-voting allowed.
Kharge comes with a stick
After his knee surgery, Mallikarjun Kharge was allowed by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan to come to the house with a stick. Kharge quipped, “It’s to manage his heavy weight (pun intended)!”