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Who Will Be BJP's Candidate for Vice-President? Guess at Your Own Risk

“We will let you know as and when things happen”; is the common refrain of a party general secretary over the last one week whenever journalists have come with queries on VP polls.

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated:July 12, 2017, 5:00 PM IST
Who Will Be BJP's Candidate for Vice-President? Guess at Your Own Risk
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and BJP president Amit Shah. (PTI)

New Delhi: Vice-presidential elections are a tad less exciting than the race for the erstwhile Viceregal Lodge in Delhi. Not that the process to nominate the custodian of the Upper House is any less significant.

But a sort of ennui seems to have set in amongst the political class in Lutyens’ Delhi after an extended bout of freewheeling manoeuvre aimed at outsmarting the Opposition for Presidential polls reached a feverish crescendo. From Indira Gandhi’s call for a “conscience vote” in support of VV Giri to Kalam’s nomination by the first BJP government at the Centre, Presidential polls unto themselves are so unique to India’s parliamentary democracy where bluffs and dummies are freely fielded to protect the identity of the chosen one till the very end.

In fielding Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA broadly went by the rulebook, throwing up a surprise at the last moment. Having lost the initiative and an ally in Presidential elections, the Opposition has now decided to name Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi as its vice presidential candidate.

BJP, however, is in no hurry or it seems so. Nominations for VP elections will end this week but no one in the party is even talking about it. Is it merely due to the boredom of an extended phase of excitement associated with naming the Presidential pick?

Perhaps not. There seems to be a mute acceptance of the fact within the party now that except the Modi-Shah duo, no one is really aware of what’s cooking. Most leaders, who claim to be in the know of things, are merely making intelligent guesses.

In the last three months, the choice of Yogi Adityanath as UP CM and Kovind as the Presidential candidate has only deepened this notion.

“We will let you know as and when things happen,” is the common refrain of a party general secretary over the last one week whenever journalists have come with queries on VP polls.

That Parliamentary Board will meet this week is sure. When, no one knows. Even journalists who shortlisted over a dozen likely candidates for Presidential elections are treading with a bit of caution.

No one wants to hazard a guess. Not in the least the aspirants themselves. Leaders who would request reporters “mera naam bhi chala dena” are extremely wary of any speculations. Everyone wants to lie low. We saw some real heavyweights and serious contenders bite the dust in the last lap of the presidential race. This is also a new normal in the BJP.

Coming back to the selection criterion for the VP candidate, the party Parliamentary Board is likely to meet anytime next week to take the final call.

Those willing to hazard a guess are not venturing beyond the demographic and geographic parameters which may factor in the final selection. Since the President pick is a Dalit from the Hindi heartland, the VP may come from the South or the north-east. A tribal from north-east or an upper caste candidate from the South! No names please.

Other aspirants who do not fit into criterion, site completely different set of arguments to buttress their case. Vice-president of India is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, where no ruling party in last many decades has enjoyed a majority. Acceptability and a good personal rapport to run the House — they claim — should be the guiding principle.

The RSS top brass has been camping in Delhi for a couple of days beginning Wednesday. Will the BJP consult the Sangh leaders before zeroing in on a name?

There have been murmurs of late that perhaps the President pick should have been intrinsically and overly associated with the RSS. May be the next VP would be in that mould.

| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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