Vice-President election India

Why the BJP picked Jagdeep Dhankhar for Vice-President

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar. Photo: Twitter/@AmitShah viat PTI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar. Photo: Twitter/@AmitShah viat PTI | Photo Credit: PTI

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who was declared the NDA’s candidate for Vice-President on Saturday, has had a career in public life that stretches to over three decades. He had been a lawyer in the Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court, was elected MP from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan on a Janata Dal ticket in 1989, and an MLA in Rajasthan in 1993. He was also Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs at the Centre in 1990.

Worked out of the box

He was described as “ kisan putra” (son of a farmer) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and as someone who worked out of the box to be the “People’s Governor” in West Bengal, by BJP president J.P. Nadda. In choosing Mr. Dhankar, 71, as their pick for the post of Vice-President of India, a role that also includes being the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, both these qualities seem to have worked in Mr. Dhankar’s favour — his humble background and gritty rise in public life and a pugnacious attitude within the fairly circumscribed role of state governor.

Born in Rajasthan

Born in a village in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in 1951, to a family engaged in agriculture, he studied in a village school in the same district, later shifting to a Sainik School in Chittorgarh. It was on a full merit scholarship that he moved from the village school to the Sainik School. He got degrees in physics and law from Rajasthan University, and worked hard at a legal career, gaining a name and making the next move to a political career via the socialist stream of Indian politics of the then V.P. Singh-led Janata Dal.

His early political career was under the mentorship of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal and he followed him when the latter walked out of the V.P. Singh government. He became Minister of State Parliamentary Affairs in 1990 in the minority government led by Chandra Shekhar.

After the fall of that government, Mr. Dhankar shifted focus to State politics and became MLA in the Rajasthan Assembly from Kishangarh in Alwar in 1993. After that stint, Mr. Dhankar spent a period considering his political options, before making a move to join the BJP around 2008.

Governor of Bengal

It was however, his gubernatorial assignment in West Bengal, which began three years ago, that kept him consistently in the national headlines in recent times. Mr. Dhankhar has had differences with the Trinamool Congress government on a host of issues including the law and order situation in the State.

After the Assembly polls in 2021, Mr. Dhankhar visited areas affected by post-poll violence in the State and blamed the State’s ruling party for the violence. Often his remarks were met with severe criticism by the Trinamool Congress leadership including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.  Recently, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed a number of Bills replacing the Governor with the Chief Minister as Chancellor of the State-run Universities. 

As chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Dhankar will have to deal with striking a balance in the Upper House where the face-off between the opposition and the Treasury benches is sharper owing to a less comfortable numbers position for the NDA compared to the Lok Sabha. Known to be a skilled lawyer, Mr. Dhankar may have to call on these qualities more and more to run the House smoothly, if elected on August 6.

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Printable version | Jul 17, 2022 2:38:02 pm |