Gowda responds positively to PM's plea for support
The incumbent Vice-President, Mohammed Hamid Ansari, is likely to get a second term as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has decided to field him in the vice-presidential poll.
Though it was known in the Congress circles that Mr. Ansari was the front-runner, the first official indication of the candidature of the former diplomat and scholar came when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday telephoned Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Deve Gowda and sought the support of his party for Mr. Ansari.
Indications are that the Prime Minister has sounded out some Left leaders also.
Mr. Gowda told The Hindu from Bangalore on Sunday that he readily agreed to back Mr. Ansari’s candidature. The UPA can ensure victory of its vice-presidential candidate with the help of the SP and the BSP. Members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha together constitute the electoral college.
Besides Pranab Mukherjee, who was ultimately nominated by the UPA as its presidential candidate, Mr. Ansari was the other preference of the ruling alliance for President. Before finalising the candidature of Mr. Mukherjee, Congress president Sonia Gandhi conveyed both names to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and asked her to indicate her preference.
Mr. Ansari has been the front-runner for Vice-President ever since the UPA announced that Mr. Mukherjee was its candidate for President.
Weighing in his favour are two factors: he was seriously considered for President; and a majority of the Vice-Presidents in the past have become President. The only ones who have not made it are either those who died in office, or those whose bid for the Presidency came up at a time when the government that had nominated them was in the Opposition. Twice, owing to the fact that the incumbent President died in office, the election of the President did not coincide with the end of the Vice-President’s tenure.
If Mr. Ansari gets a second term, he will be the second incumbent to do so. The first was S. Radhakrishnan, who served two terms as Vice-President before becoming President, as the first President, Rajendra Prasad, got two terms.
The vice-presidential election is scheduled for August 7.
The National Democratic Alliance has not initiated any consultation so far. According to sources, the dominant view at the BJP Core Committee meeting, held on Saturday, was that since the party did not have the numbers it should not field a candidate and should extend support to the nominee of another Opposition party.
Having burnt its fingers in the presidential election, the BJP is cautious on the vice-presidential poll.
The NDA and the Left parties were divided on the issue of extending support to Mr. Mukherjee.
Though the NDA has not hinted at any name, there are reports on the likelihood of senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh or Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromoni Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal getting the chance.
Keywords: Vice Presidential election