New Delhi: Former Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu was on Saturday elected as the new vice president of the country. It is for the first time that a leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be the chairman of the Rajya Sabha when the BJP has the highest number of seats in the house.
Naidu will succeed outgoing vice president Hamid Ansari who served on the post for 10 years. Ansari completes his term on 10 August. In the ongoing vice presidential polls, Naidu was directly pitted against Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the former West Bengal governor who was the joint opposition candidate for the vice presidential polls.
98.21% polling was registered for the election with 771 out of 785 MPs casting their vote. Out of 760 valid votes, Naidu got 516 votes while Gandhi got 244 votes.
“With all humility, I express my gratitude to every MP who supported my candidature cutting across party lines. I promise to uphold the Constitution and the high standards set by my esteemed predecessors," Naidu wrote on Twitter after the election results were announced.
Congratulating Naidu on his victory, Gandhi said that he was satisfied with the performance of the opposition.
“ I thank those who voted for me. I was expecting a handsome performance by the united vote of opposition parties and I am more than satisfied," he said.
The election of Naidu, 67, also a former party president, is significant because it reasserts BJP’s political dominance in the Parliament. The electoral college for the election of the vice president consists of both houses of Parliament.
While the BJP already has a clear majority in Lok Sabha, it is moving towards a comfortable position in Rajya Sabha. On Thursday, BJP left behind Congress to become the largest political party in the Upper House, where it now has 58 members as opposed to 57 of the Congress.
All National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies and friendly parties had supported Naidu’s candidature. While Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Janata Dal (United) had supported NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind for the post of president, they changed their stance for VP polls and supported Gandhi in this election. Whips are not allowed in these polls as it happens through secret ballot.
An experienced parliamentarian, Naidu has been a member of the Upper House since 1998. His first three stints, till 2010, were from Karnataka but in 2016, he got elected from Rajasthan. His association with the party dates long back to 1980 when he joined the BJP. In 1993, he was appointed as party’s national general secretary and has served as party president in 2002 and 2004.