Friends and Foes Put Venkaiah Naidu In Vice President Chair

Venkaiah Naidu defeated Congress-backed Gopalkrishna Gandhi by a huge margin, indicating that friends and foes voted for him.

Venkaiah Naidu

The ruling NDA candidate and former Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was on Saturday elected next Vice-President of India. No surprises at the victory, but the huge margin packed a big big surprise.

Naidu got 516 votes against Opposition candidate and former diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s 244. The margin was 272 votes indicated that many from the Opposition voted for the NDA nominee.

Another surprising factor is that 14 MPs of different political parties did not vote for varied reasons. 771 out of 785 MPs cast their votes. Votes of 11 MPs were declared invalid by the returning officer.

Naidu will take oath of office on August 11 when the term of incumbent vice president Hamid Ansari would end.

By virtue of being vice president, Naidu also becomes ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Hence, the Rajya Sabha is likely to be more lively and witty with his one liners. Unlike Ansari, who was a career diplomat, Naidu comes with solid political experience.

Venkaiah

Naidu served as Union minister for urban development in the Modi Cabinet. He has also served as the BJP national president from 2002 to 2004. Earlier, Naidu was the Cabinet Minister for rural Development in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee NDA government.

Soon after he was declared winner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter saying: I am confident @MVenkaiahNaidu will serve the nation as a diligent & dedicated Vice President, committed to the goal of nation building.

In his reaction, Naidu said: It’s an honour for me to become Vice President from a family of an ordinary farmer. This speaks for the beauty & strength of our democracy.

“I think we will miss Venkaiah Naidu in one place, but you will see more in action in another place,” said Goa’s BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

Said Naidu’s opponent Gandhi: “The NDA’s candidate is an experienced person, (and there’s) no competition as such between us. It is a fight based on constitutional principles, where I maintained complete civility and the same has been done from the other side too.”

Naidu family

Born on 1 July, 1949 in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu joined the RSS by accident — his links go back to his childhood days when he chanced upon a ‘shakha’ while playing.

Naidu started his political journey as a student leader in 1971. He was the president of the student union at VR College, where he pursued his bachelor’s degree in politics and diplomatic studies. He later also became the president of the student’s union of colleges affiliated to Andhra University.

Naidu pursued law and was involved in the movement launched by Jayaprakash Narayan. He was the president of the youth wing of the Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh from 1977 to 1980.

During Emergency of 1975-77, he went underground against the government of Indira Gandhi and eventually was jailed.

He travelled on a scooter along with a woman activist on pillion in a bid not to arouse suspicion to distribute literature against the Emergency.

After Emergency, he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in 1978 and was a legislator till 1985. After the BJP was formed in 1980, he became vice-president of its youth wing.

Naidu, 68, is a four-time Rajya Sabha member.

Raj Shankar

Shankar Raj is a senior journalist with more than 30 years experience, mostly with The Indian Express and The New Indian Express. He was the Editor for Karnataka and Kerala editions of The New Indian Express, and former Managing Editor of the Nyusu Digital Media P Ltd. Bengaluru.

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