New Delhi: The UPA on Saturday decided for a second consecutive term for incumbent Hamid Ansari as the Vice President.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed Ansari`s name at a meeting of UPA constituents held at his official residence. In the same meeting, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi declared the name of Ansari for the penultimate post.
"Mohd Hamid Ansari will complete shortly a term as Vice President of India. He has presided over the Rajya Sabha with dignity and distinction. The UPA is honoured to nominate him as its candidate for a second term as Vice President of India," Gandhi said in her brief statement.
The meeting was also attended by Trinamool Congress representative and Railway Minister Mukul Roy.
But, the key UPA constituent remained non-committal on supporting UPA’s Vice Presidential nominee. Reports say Trinamool Congress has proposed the name of former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi along with former Lok Sabha member Krishna Bose’s name for the post of Vice President.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, however, welcomed the candidature of Hamid Ansari. Both SP and BSP, which support the UPA outside also extended their support to Ansari’s candidature.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached out to the BJP seeking its support for Hamid Ansari in the Vice Presidential poll.
The Prime Minister called up BJP veteran LK Advani, party president Nitin Gadkari, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, sources said. But the BJP categorically rejected Ansari because of his role in the Lokpal bill stalemate, party insiders say.
The BJP Core Group met here later in the evening, in which the party has decided to contest the Vice-Presidential election. A meeting of NDA allies has been convened on July 16 to discuss the issue.
The Prime Minister also spoke to CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat seeking support for Ansari.
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has already said he favoured a non-Congress person for the post of Vice- President and had conveyed the same to the Prime Minister.
Incidentally, the Left parties, which were key outside supporters of the UPA-I, had proposed the name of Ansari for Vice-Presidentship in 2007.
A move is afoot in opposition camp to field NDA convenor and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav to ensure a contest.
Sources say a few leaders from BJP as well as from some other opposition parties have already approached Yadav in this regard as there is a view that he can muster the support of other parties.
75-year-old Ansari, a career diplomat will emulate the late philosopher-statesman S Radhakrishnan, who got two terms as Vice-President between 1952 and 1962.
Soon after his name was endorsed Ansari said, "I thank the Prime Minister, the UPA Chairperson, ingredient members of the UPA and those parties which have supported my candidature and for the confidence reposed in me for shouldering once again the responsibility of this high office".
The last day for filing nomination for Vice-Presidential election is July 20, a day after the Presidential poll.
The UPA is comfortably placed in the electoral college comprising 790 MPs. As per the support committed so far, Ansari is expected to get 423, substantially higher than the required 395.