By Parth Gupta
With Ram Nath Kovind set to be the next President of India, the next in line are the elections for the office of the Vice President. Unlike the choice for president, the NDA did not stun anyone with its vice presidential contender, Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu. The voting for the next VP will be held on August 5.
However, Congress’s intelligent and early choice of Gopalkrishna Gandhi seems to be an unwise decision. This is because the BJP claims to have a simple majority of 550 in the Electoral College (total members 790). The BJP seems very complacent, despite the fact that the Janata Dal (United) (the party which endorsed the BJP candidate for presidential elections) said it would not back them in the VP elections.
Humble beginnings of a political journey
Venkaiah Naidu belongs to an agricultural family in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district. At the age of ten, he was attracted towards the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Naidu initiated his political drive as a student leader in 1971. He was the president of the student union at VR College, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in politics and diplomatic studies. He later became the president of the student’s union of colleges affiliated to Andhra University.
Naidu, an ABVP activist, remained at the forefront in the protests against the 1975 Emergency under the Indira Gandhi government. He participated in the movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan. After the Emergency, he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in 1978 and was a legislator till 1985. He was the president of the youth wing of the Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh from 1977 to 1980.
Naidu’s stint with the BJP
When the BJP was formed in 1980, he became the vice president of its youth wing. When he signed up for Jan Sangh, which was recreated into Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), he was told that the RSS is a Hindi-belt outfit and patronises vegetarianism. Having lost his mother when he was one-and-half years old, Naidu has said on various occasions that the party eventually became his mother.
Naidu’s political journey, from pasting posters to becoming the VP candidate has been truly remarkable. The 68-year-old BJP veteran is a four-time Rajya Sabha member and was serving as the Union Minister for I&B and Urban Development. He ranked fifth in the Cabinet after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Arun Jaitley.
On being picked as the VP candidate
The BJP’s parliamentary board picked Naidu as the candidate on Monday. Following that, without any hesitation, he immediately resigned as the Union Minister from the party. The additional charge of Ministry of Urban Development has been given to Narendra Tomar whereas Smriti Irani was given the additional charge of the I&B ministry.
The candidate for the second-highest constitutional post was not selected exclusively by the party. On Thursday, BJP chief Amit Shah had met top RSS leaders Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Krishna Gopal to discuss the candidacy. While political analysts were speculating names in the meeting, Venkaiah Naidu had already rejected suggestions that his name was being considered for the post.
The master of rhymes and one-liners, who coined the term “MODI – Making of Developed India” had also said in May: “I neither want to become Rashtrapati (president) nor do I want to become uprashtrapati (vice president). I am happy being Usha’s pati (wife Usha’s husband). Never am I going to participate in vice-president election even if anyone compels me.”
What does BJP stand to gain?
With Ram Nath Kovind already elected as the next President, Naidu’s victory will help balance the regional factor, as Kovind hails from north (Kanpur, UP) and Naidu from the south (Andhra Pradesh).
The NDA is still in the minority when it comes to the Rajya Sabha. Hence, Venkaiah Naidu’s selection as the VP will serve the BJP in standings where the parliament is in chaos. Naidu has proven himself capable when it comes to getting the opposition to fall in line, either by meeting Congress leaders such as Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh on various issues, or indulging in fiery debates.
However, if elected, Naidu will be terribly missed by the PM as he defended Modi in matters where the BJP found itself on the back foot, such as demonetization and Dalit issues.
Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt
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