BJP pushes Venkaiah Naidu as it wants him to take charge in RS

The Asian Age.  | CH V M Krishna Rao

India, Politics

The Opposition has already selected Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi as its nominee.

M Venkaiah Naidu (Photo: PTI/File)

Hyderabad: Union minister Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu is being considered as one of the front runners for the post of vice-president. Nominations for the election to the post will close on Tuesday and polling will be held on August 5.

The Opposition has already selected Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi as its nominee.

It is expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would formally announce the name of the NDA nominee on Monday after holding formal consultations with the BJP parliamentary board and with NDA partners.

Mr Naidu, though, has gone on record indicating his reluctance to take up the job, quipping that he wanted to remain “Usha Pati” (husband of Usha, the name of his wife) and not become Upa-Rashtrapati (vice-president), but he is reportedly the front runner.

Sources said BJP president Amit Shah had indicated the party’s preference to Mr Naidu on Saturday, to which the minister reportedly replied that he wanted to remain in active politics.

Sources said Manipur governor Najma Heptulla, a former deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha; senior leader and Kerala legislator O. Rajagopal, who is also a former Union minister of state; Uttar Pradesh governor and former Union minister Ram Naik; Maharastra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao and former Union minister S.S. Ahluwalia are among the others who are being considered.

A few key issues are said to weigh in favour of Mr Naidu. According to sources in Delhi, during the meeting that took place two days ago between Mr Amit Shah and RSS leaders, a consensus emerged that the nominee for the vice-president’s chair should be from the ruling party and have strong commitment to the ideology of the “mother organisation” and experience in the Rajya Sabha.

It was pointed out that by April 2018, the NDA strength in the Rajya Sabha is set for accretion and the NDA needs a strong man in the Rajya Sabha Chair to push important legislation till then. Mr Naidu is committed to RSS ideology and is a founder-member of the BJP. He has represented the BJP in the Rajya Sabha for 20 years without a break.

It is known that in the BJP any committed member of the “mother organisation” would not reject an offer if it is made to him. Moreover, the candidate should be acceptable to NDA partners.

Indications are that there would be no major opposition if Mr Naidu is declared the nominee for the V-P election. But going by the unexpected selection of Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind for the Presidency, there could well be a dark horse emerging.