He has presided over the Rajya Sabha with dignity and distinction: Sonia

Vice-President Hamid Ansari looks set to get a second term in his current job after United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi formally announced on Saturday that he would be the alliance’s candidate for VP. This followed a meeting of UPA constituents at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence.

Last week, The Hindu broke the news of Mr. Ansari’s nomination after Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Deve Gowda told the newspaper that Dr. Singh had canvassed his support for a second term for Mr. Ansari.

If the 75-year-old Ansari, a career diplomat, and former Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, makes it, he will follow in the footsteps of philosopher-statesman S. Radhakrishnan who got two terms as Vice-President between 1952 and 1962.

Predictably, Trinamool Congress representative and Railway Minister Mukul Roy did suggest the names of the former West Bengal Governor, Gopal Gandhi, and ex-Trinamool MP Krishna Bose for the job. However, he did not press the point, even applauding when Mr. Ansari’s name was announced. Later, he told journalists he would report on the proceedings to his party supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee before the party took a public position on the Vice-Presidential election.

Another UPA constituent, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) of Tamil Nadu, suggested a Christian candidate.

But neither the UPA chairperson nor the Prime Minister reacted to the suggestions made by the Trinamool and the VCK.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, responding to the announcement, said the Left parties would meet on Monday to take a collective view on the VP’s election. In 2007, Mr. Ansari’s name for VP was proposed by the Left parties.

“Mohammed Hamid Ansari will complete shortly a term as Vice-President of India. He has presided over the Rajya Sabha with dignity and distinction,” Ms. Gandhi said at Saturday’s meeting, concluding her short statement, “The UPA is honoured to nominate him as its candidate for a second term as Vice-President of India.”

At the meeting, the Prime Minister proposed his name and sought the suggestions of the leaders who were present, after which Ms. Gandhi made the announcement.

Clear edge

Mr. Ansari enjoys a clear edge for the Vice-Presidential poll slated for August 7. In an Electoral College of 790 MPs, in the last election, he polled 455 votes against the NDA’s Najma Heptullah who secured 222 votes, while the now defunct United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA)’s Rashid Masood — now in the Congress — got 75 votes. This time, the Congress’ parliamentary managers are expecting to win by a considerably larger margin — if the Opposition fields a candidate.

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