Vice-President Naidu and BJP's long-term plans

As Vice-President, M. Venkaiah Naidu brings to the office his long years of experience as Parliamentary Affairs Minister, built on an amiable personality that has won him friends cutting across party divides. His election was no surprise given the numbers in Parliament, and the contest was something of a non-starter despite Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s attempt to portray it as an ideological face-off. That Mr. Naidu did not give much room for raising the profile of the battle for the office of the Vice-President is reflective of his tact and temperament, qualities that will stand him in good stead in his primary job as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. He can be expected to take on the ceremonial and diplomatic duties of the Vice-President, which are akin to those of the President, with minimum fuss. The Bharatiya Janata Party zeroed in on him for more than one reason. He is the most prominent face of the BJP in the south, having previously served as the national president of the party. Although Karnataka, and not his home State of Andhra Pradesh, is the first and only State in the south to vote the BJP to power, Mr. Naidu was in many ways the symbol of the party’s foray into the south.


Left to himself, Mr. Naidu would probably have chosen to continue in active politics, and not take on this constitutional post. He was the BJP’s go-to person for making allies in the south. He developed a good equation with K. Chandrasekhar Rao in Telangana, N. Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh and Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu. By all accounts, Mr. Naidu relished his political role in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as much as his ministerial role at the Centre. But given the BJP’s new-found majority in the Lok Sabha, and its ambitious plan to expand its own base in the south beyond Karnataka, party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have felt less need for Mr. Naidu’s ally-making abilities. But, even if the BJP leadership does not miss him in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Mr. Modi will still have a hole to fill in his Cabinet. Some of the senior ministers such as Arun Jaitley hold more than one important portfolio, and losing another senior hand will surely have an effect on the representativeness and balance of the Council of Ministers. Already Mr. Modi has lost the services of Manohar Parrikar, who moved to Goa as Chief Minister after relinquishing his job as Defence Minister. As for Mr. Naidu, he could well be the BJP’s choice for the next President. The Shah-Modi team is known for making long-term plans, and it cannot be ruled out that they made the choice with an eye on Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2022.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 4:18:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/vice-president-naidu-and-bjps-long-term-plans/article19439931.ece

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