Voting to Elect Next Vice-President of India Begins

New Delhi: The voting process for the election to the office of the Vice-President of the country got underway here today. According to Election Commission (EC) schedule, the polling, which started at 10am, will end at 5pm.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the early voters. Among others NDA nominee M. Venkaiah Naidu, also a Rajya Sabha member, came to exercise his voting right.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is still a member of Lok Sabha, several Union Ministers, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, Trinamool leader Dinesh Trivedi and Nominated Rajya Sabha MP and noted boxer Mary Kom were also present to exercise their right.

The counting of votes will also take place today itself. The contest this year is between BJP-led NDA nominee M. Venkaiah Naidu and Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who has been fielded by 18 Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Left and the regional parties.

The ruling BJP, which has a commanding strength of 281 MPs in Lok Sabha, can claim support of about 335 members in the Lok Sabha and about 75 in the Rajya Sabha.

Over 60 members from AIADMK, TRS and YSR Congress are also likely to vote for Naidu. There can be no whip for Presidential and election to the Vice-President’s office as the members of the respective electoral college are free to exercise their right through secret ballot.

The voting pattern of JD(U) MPs – 10 in Rajya Sabha and two in Lok Sabha – would be keenly watched this time.

The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), which had backed the NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in Presidential election, had said that it would, however, support the candidature of Gopalkrishna Gandhi for polls to the office of the Vice-President.

There have been major political developments with regard JD(U) lately as the party leader Kumar had parted ways from RJD and Congress and formed an alternative government with BJP in Bihar.

The BJP camp is predictably jubilant and senior leaders have exuded confidence that Naidu will be the country’s new Vice-President.

The Vice-President of India is also ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a kin of Mahatma Gandhi, sent in a post card to all MPs yesterday and sought their support.

Modi, yesterday, said that the next five years will be crucial for the country and noted that it is also significant that the country will have President and Vice-President from the BJP-led NDA during 2017-22.