DAYS AFTER her resignation as the Union Minority Affairs minister, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Najma Heptulla has sent feelers to the party leadership that even if she is now sent to a Raj Bhawan as Governor, she would want to contest the vice-presidential elections next year, it is learnt.
There has been speculation about a gubernatorial post for Heptulla, as she has touched the unofficial Cabinet “cut-off” of 75 years.
Heptulla, a relative of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India’s first education minister, had been fielded by the NDA in the vice-presidential race in 2007.
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She was pipped to the post by the incumbent, Hamid Ansari. Ansari subsequently got a second term, which ends in 2017.
Sources in the BJP said she has given indications to senior leaders that although she would not turn down a Governor’s position if offered to her now, that would not keep her from contesting the vice-presidential elections when the opportunity comes next year. Heptulla has reportedly told BJP leaders that her defeat was almost a foregone conclusion in 2007, but the fact that she fought the losing battle had made former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee commit that whenever the NDA has the numbers to push through its own candidate for the vice-president’s job, she would be the automatic choice.
Heptulla resigned from the Cabinet on July 12, a day after returning from a vacation in the US, where she was visiting her family. Although her imminent exit from the cabinet had been a matter of speculation for months, the fact that her name appeared in the list of ministers after the July 5 reshuffle had left many, including her party colleagues, surprised.
Heptulla, however, has maintained that she resigned for personal reasons and was not asked to put in her papers.