On Saturday, India got its 13th Vice-President in the face of M Venkaiah Naidu who defeated the joint Opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi by a huge margin of 272 votes. While there was a moment of cheer in the NDA camp, even the Opposition put up a brave face stressing that Gandhi got more votes of MPs compared to its presidential nominee Meira Kumar last month. However, looking at the number of votes Gandhi bagged, a closer look reveals that he got less votes than expected which could very well be due to cross-voting. However, these numbers do not include the nine opposition MPs, including 2 from the Congress, 4 from Trinamool Congress (TMC), 1 from NCP and 2 from Indian Union Muslim League who did not vote.
As per an Indian Express report, the 18 Opposition parties which picked Gandhi as their VP candidate, have a total of 245 MPs in Upper and Lower houses. Even the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has 4 Lok Sabha MPs had promised support to Gandhi. The Opposition camp was also expecting support from Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM along with some Independent MPs and other nominated members.
Now calculating the overall Opposition backing, Meira Kumar got 225 votes in total and if her MPs would have voted for Gandhi including JDU and BJD’s votes, Gandhi should have got a total of 265 votes. Taking a close look at the total number of votes Naidu bagged, NDA and its allies including YSRCP, AIADMK, TRS have 278 MPs in both houses. Ram Nath Kovind had got 522 MP votes during the Presidential election, including that of the BJD and JDU. So, in this case, if we remove these 40 votes of the two parties, Naidu should have got 482. Even if the 10 nominated members, who are not allowed to vote in the presidential elections, voted for Naidu, his vote count should have gone up to only 492, but he got 516 votes instead.
According to ANI report, 771 MPs out of 785 turned up to vote on Saturday. Of these 14 MPs who didn’t vote, 3 belonged to the NDA camp, 9 from the opposition and 2 Independents MPs. Also, 11 of the votes were found to be invalid. As per polling officials, 7 MPs belonged to the Opposition, while only 4 were of the NDA.
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However, soon after the results were announced, Gandhi thanked the MPs who voted for him. He said, “they represent different political persuasions, they come from different parts of India and they had all come together to vote for what they thought was the national good, which is the affirmation of the right to free thought and free speech, the right to hold a different opinion and the duty to serve the cause of pluralism and secularism in India.”
“There were two big victories today… First is that of Venkaiah garu… the second victory is of free speech. This is the victory of the ballot. It is also the victory of free speech and the second victory belongs to all the people of India,” he said. Gandhi added that he was expecting a “handsome performance” by the united vote of the opposition parties and was “more than satisfied with what I have got”.