After a successful completion of the Presidential election on Moday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) selected Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu as its candidate for the Vice-Presidential post against Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the opposition’s nominee. His candidature was announced by party chief Amit Shah after a parliamentary board meeting on Moday evening. After filing his nomination today, Naidu will be in competition with grandson of Mahatma Gandhi in the election which is set to take place on August 8. However, before filing the nomination, Naidu will have to resign from the charge of Union Information and Broadcasting, and Urban Development minister which further indicates a major reshuffle in the cabinet with two other prominent portfolios remaining vacant – Defence and Environment. The Defence ministry, currently being looked by Arun Jaitley, was vacated by Manohar Parrikar who took over as the chief minister of Goa and Environment ministry which was under Anil Dave who passed away in May, 2017.
Speaking to Indian Express, BJP sources said that Shah held meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top stalwarts of the saffron party last week and spoke to Naidu a day before the presidential election. Naidu, from the very beginning, has maintained that he no interest in becoming the vice-president and would prefer active politics.
As per a report by Indian Express, Naidu told one of his close friends that he wanted to be an ‘active politician’ throughout his career. “He felt that becoming vice-president would be the end of his political career. He wanted to remain the voice of Prime Minister Modi and play a key role in making his ‘dream India’ a reality. He has conveyed it to the Prime Minister also,” said sources.
However, BJP sources also informed that it was Shah who convinced Naidu for the candidature and also stated that PM Modi would talk to him on the same and he should not refuse the offer. Members from both Houses form the electoral college for the vice presidential election.
Naidu’s name was in the news even for the presidential elections, but at the time, IE sources said, Modi conveyed to him that he would not like to ‘spare’ any of his senior Cabinet colleagues. Sources also informed that PM Modi spoke to Naidu again and asked him to keep in mind the interest of the nation. PM Modi asked Naidu to take a decision by Monday evening.
Naidu, on Moday morning, had denied any such possibility saying, “I neither want to become Rashtrapati (President) nor do I want to become Uprashtrapati (Vice President). I am happy being Usha’s pati (his wife Usha’s husband).”
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According to sources, BJP’s political and electoral ambitions in the south and the government’s concern over managing the Rajya Sabha were prominent reason behind Naidu’s selection. “The Rajya Sabha has a number political heavyweights — P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Digvijay Singh, Kapil Sibal etc., in the Congress; Ram Gopal Yadav in SP; Mayawati in BSP, etc. Both the Prime Minister and Shah wanted an experienced man of stature with flexibility and pragmatism to conduct the House smoothly,” a party leader told Indian Express,
“CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, whose tenure end soon, could also return to the House soon,” he added. Several BJP leaders also think that Naidu’s election as vice president would also be a morale-booster for party cadre in the southern states, especially in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.