National Democratic Alliance candidate and former West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will be the 14th Vice-President of the country. He secured 528 votes out of the 710 valid votes in the 16th Vice-Presidential election held in Parliament on Saturday.
The Opposition candidate and Congress leader, Margaret Alva, got 182 votes. Ms. Alva said by supporting Mr. Dhankhar “directly or indirectly”, some Opposition parties and their leaders had damaged their own credibility.
Secretary General of the Lok Sabha Utpal Kumar Singh, who was the Returning Officer of the election, told reporters that of the 780 electors comprising of elected and nominated members of the Rajya Sabha and elected members of the Lok Sabha, 725 MPs voted. “The total elector turnout was 92.94%,” Mr. Singh said.
The voting began at 10 a.m. and was closed at 5 p.m. The counting started at 6 p.m. and ended around 7.45 p.m.
Out of the 725 votes, 15 were invalid and the total valid votes were 710, which is 97.93% of the total votes. The Opposition was expecting close to 200 votes based on the support announced by various Opposition parties. Just two out of the 36 Trinamool Congress MPs turned up for voting. The Opposition party had announced that they will boycott the poll as they were not consulted before announcing Ms. Alva’s candidature.
Senior leaders congratulated Mr. Dhankhar over his victory. President Droupadi Murmu said the nation would benefit from his long and rich experience in public life. “My best wishes for a productive and successful tenure,” she said. Outgoing Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said the nation would greatly benefit from Mr. Dhankhar’s vast experience and legal expertise. “My best wishes for a successful and fruitful tenure,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met Mr. Dhankhar and congratulated him. “I am confident he will be an outstanding Vice-President. Our nation will gain tremendously from his intellect and wisdom,” Mr. Modi said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Upper House would definitely benefit from his experience and close understanding of the ground issues. BJP president J.P. Nadda too congratulated the newly elected Vice-President.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi sent a congratulatory note to Mr. Dhankhar. Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, while congratulating Mr. Dhankhar, said Ms. Alva represented the spirit of the joint Opposition with grace and dignity. Senior Congress MP in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said it was too bad that the Trinamool Congress didn’t support Ms. Alva. “India will have to wait for its first woman Vice-President,” he said and hoped that Mr. Dhankhar will display the sagacity and objectivity of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the wit and humour of Venkaiah Naidu, the two BJP leaders who became Vice-Presidents.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Ms. Alva clearly articulated and raised all issues which are roiling Indian democracy today. “The legislature is under threat from an overbearing Executive. She led a spirited fight. The answers to questions she raised are yet to come,” he said.