On the eve of the vice-presidential election, the ruling NDA organised a workshop for its MPs on Friday to instruct them on the correct voting procedure. A “dummy vote” was held at the end of the session. At least 16 votes were declared “invalid”.
Addressing the MPs in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah told them “it was embarrassing”, especially because they “represent almost 15-16 lakh people and still make such mistakes.” The MPs made different mistakes: six were “completely wrong”, five had to seek fresh ballot papers, and the remaining five made mistakes which could get their votes declared invalid if the Opposition insisted.
BJP general secretary and party MP Bhupender Yadav then repeated the presentation, and guided them against making such mistakes on Saturday. Shah instructed the MPs not to carry their own pens. “Leave your pens at home,” he told them.
While the NDA has fielded former Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu as its vice-presidential candidate, former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi is the Opposition candidate. In the presidential election last month, the votes of 21 MPs, including many BJP members, were declared invalid.
At the NDA dinner on Friday, a book titled Tireless Voice, Relentless Journey: Key Speeches of M Venkaiah Naidu was released. Speaking on the occasion, Modi said it was the ruling party’s responsibility to enhance the stature of Parliament. It’s not just about supremacy but also about its stature, he said.
“It is a responsibility as well as a challenge before us to restore the glory of the Upper House. We are fortunate to have the benefit of leadership of Shri Venkaiah Naidu in the House. By marking a vertical line against the name of Shri Naidu in the ballot paper, we resolve to stand by him like a rock for the next five years,” he said.
The NDA has 337 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 80 in the Rajya Sabha. Naidu is expected to get 484 of the total 790 votes — parties like AIADMK, YSRCP and TRS, which have extended their support, together account for 67 MPs.