TUESDAY’S MEETING of opposition parties to zoom in on a joint candidate for the Vice President’s election is expected to discuss the proposal to field a former Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a retired Supreme Court or high court judge, among others. The names doing the rounds, as of now, are those of former CJI T S Thakur, former chief justice of Delhi High Court A P Shah, and former SC judge Venkate Gopala Gowda, sources said.
While the Congress, sources privy to initial discussions, has so far not suggested any name, and is in a mood to let the other parties come up with possible candidates, the Left parties are learnt to be pushing the proposal to get a non-political, retired top jurist or academic as the Opposition nominee.
“After Mohammad Hidayatullah, a judge, either of SC or HC, has not become the Vice President,” a senior Opposition leader said.
There are differences over whether the name should be announced immediately, unlike the Presidential nominee, where the NDA was seen as having stolen a march by announcing Ram Nath Kovind’s name even as opposition parties were discussing the idea of a Dalit candidate for the post, which led to some leaders criticising this inordinate delay. One leader said names will be discussed in Tuesday’s meeting, but “I don’t expect the candidate to be announced immediately”. Some other leaders feel the name should be decided and sealed on Tuesday itself to avoid any bickering and confusion later.
The JD(U), which broke ranks and chose to back NDA’s Kovind as an “isolated”, “one-time affair”, is expected to be represented in Tuesday’s meeting by Sharad Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP and the party’s former president.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury is learnt to have discussed the Vice Presidential election with Yadav at the latter’s residence on Sunday, and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad spoke with him on the phone on Monday.
Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is learnt to have spoken with CPI general secretary D Raja and clarified that his party will not push for any name of its choice. There is a chance that former PM H D Deve Gowda, of JDS, could also attend Tuesday’s meeting.