New Delhi, Aug 5 (PTI): NDA nominee M Venkaiah Naidu was on Saturday elected as India’s next Vice President, receiving an overwhelming two-thirds vote against opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi. The 68-year-old BJP leader from Andhra Pradesh got 516 votes out of the total 771 votes cast while Gandhi could only manage 244 votes. Of the total 771 votes polled, 11 were found to be invalid.
Although 785 MPs were eligible to vote in Saturday’s election, 14 MPs could not vote. The strength of the electoral college comprising both elected and nominated MPs of the Rajya Sabha (RS) and the Lok Sabha (LS) is 790. There are two vacancies each in the LS and the RS. One BJP Lok Sabha MP is barred from voting following a judicial pronouncement.
“Coming from an agricultural background, I never imagined I would be here. Agriculture has no proper voice in Indian polity,” India’s vice president-elect told PTI. “I am very humbled. I am also thankful to the Prime Minister and all party leaders for their support. I will seek to utilise the vice presidential institution to strengthen the hands of the president and secondly uphold the dignity of the Upper House,” he added.
Naidu will be the 13th person to hold the second highest constitutional post. By virtue of being the vice president, Naidu will also preside over the Rajya Sabha as the Chairman. He will take oath on August 11, a day after the term of the present incumbent Hamid Ansari ends.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah met Naidu to congratulate him. “I am confident @MVenkaiahNaidu will serve the nation as a diligent & dedicated Vice President, committed to the goal of nation building,” Modi tweeted.
Naidu will be visiting Tirupati on Sunday to offer prayers. In the 2007 VP poll, Ansari had polled 456 votes, Najma Heptullah 222 votes and Rashid Masood 075 votes. In the 2012 polls, Ansari had bagged 490 and NDA nominee Jaswant Singh 238 votes.
With Saturday’s election, those holding the three top positions in the country – the president, the vice president and the prime minister come from the BJP. Last month, Ramnath Kovind became the first BJP leader to win the presidential poll defeating opposition’s Meira Kumar.
Naidu will be the second BJP leader to become vice- president after Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (2002-2007). A two-term BJP president, Naidu was also elected to the Rajya Sabha three times from Karnataka. He represented Rajasthan in the Upper House of Parliament before he was nominated to the vice president’s post by the NDA.
Once an L K Advani protege, Naidu vigorously backed Modi for the prime minister’s post before the 2014 elections. He was minister for information and broadcasting and housing and urban affairs in the Modi government and earlier held the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio.