NEW DELHI: The Assembly elections have queered the pitch for the upcoming election to elect a Vice-President. The Samajwadi Party has a cumulative strength of 32 and the Bahujan Samaj Party has 36 MPs in both Houses. The nightmare scenario the Congress fears the most is the threat from the fourth front. First erstwhile Third Front constituents—Navin Patnaik of Orissa, J Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu and N Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh prop up a common candidate and get the support of other chief ministers, like Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, and even West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee. This candidate gets BJP support. The cumulative strength of this group would be 276. The Congress candidate, then, is sure to bite the dust. Another nightmare for the UPA government is, the BJP-led NDA and the Left front together deciding on a common Vice-Presidential candidate if they find a suitable name.
Finding itself on a sticky wicket, the Congress, then, is said to be toying with the idea of choosing a “consensus candidate”.
There are also reports that if the incumbent Vice President Hamid Ansari manages the Samajwadi Party’s support, he may well continue for another term. There is also talk of Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi emerging as a “surprise choice” for the post. A senior Congress minister quipped that like the Presidential election, when they were caught in a difficult situation, “they would similarly manage the Vice-Presidential election”.
The trouble for the Congress, said party sources, is that it cannot afford to have a non-Congress sponsored candidate as Vice-President, who also officiates as Rajya Sabha Chairman. The Congress would like to have its own leader to run the House smoothly and save it from any embarrassment—hence the all-out effort to ensure that “a consensus candidate is selected after all”.