Even as the Opposition parties decided to meet next week to decide on a joint candidate for the Vice-Presidential elections, one of the Left parties on Thursday demanded that the nominee should be a non-Congress leader or an independent personality. The parties will meet on July 11.
The JD(U), which had deserted the Opposition for the Presidential elections, has decided to attend the meeting. The Congress had reached out to the party with an invitation — leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had spoken to JD(U) leaders.
JD(U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi told The Indian Express on Thursday, “We have moved ahead. We have always said that our support to the NDA presidential candidate was an isolated case. We are looking forward to attending the Opposition parties’ meeting to discuss the choice for Vice-President’s post. We could also be committed to any decision taken at the meeting.”
Tyagi added that senior Congress leaders from Bihar had responded well after some party leaders made “irresponsible statements” about JD (U) leadership. Meanwhile, the ruling BJP has calculated that as many as 30 parties are likely to support NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the Presidential elections, and expects most of the parties to also extend support for the Vice-Presidential polls. According to the list prepared by the BJP (see box), around 550 MPs could support Kovind. This includes the JD(U) as well.
With the Vice-Presidential electoral college comprising only Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, the numbers suggest that the ruling party is in an unassailable position. Even if the JD(U) backs the Opposition nominee, the ruling alliance would still get more than 500 of the total 790 votes.
MPs from parties like the JD(U), BJD, TRS and AIADMK are supporting Kovind. While the JD(U) has declared it will vote with the Opposition in the Vice-Presidential polls, others have not clarified their position.
BJP leaders said the party parliamentary board will meet after PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah return to Delhi after their tours. “We are considering a few names (for nominee). The parliamentary board will take the final call,” said a party leader.
CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy, meanwhile, said his party expects the Opposition candidate would be either an independent personality or from a non-Congress party. “My personal feeling is that since the Presidential candidate is from the Congress, the Vice-Presidential candidate should be from outside (the Congress),” he said.