New Delhi: The NDA on Monday nominated senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh as its choice for the post of Vice President of the country.
The decision to field Singh was made at a NDA meeting held at the residence of NDA chairperson L K Advani. Later Advani declared Singh’s candidature for the penultimate post.
"We have decided not to give them (Congress-led UPA) a walkover... NDA has unanimously decided that Jaswant Singh will be the NDA candidate in the Vice Presidential poll," Advani told reporters.
The NDA meeting was also attended by JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut. Both JD(U) and Shiv Sena, which broke ranks with the BJP to support UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, have decided to back the NDA’s Vice Presidential candidate.
The BJP veteran said that there was complete unanimity on the name of the Member of Parliament from Darjeeling. Advani revealed that the name of NDA convenor Sharad Yadav was also discussed but that the “JD(U) leader was not keen.”
On UPA’s nominee and incumbent Vice President Hamid Ansari, the BJP veteran said that they did not approve of his name because of the role that he played in scuttling the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha on December 29, 2011.
Advani also said NDA`s reservations on Ansari`s candidature are due to the manner in which the Women`s Reservation Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.
"Sharad Yadav pointed out in our meeting that when the Women`s Reservation Bill was to be passed, a large number of marshals were brought in to take out members opposed to the Bill. This is not acceptable to anybody. So we decided to oppose Ansari," Advani said.
Meanwhile, a jubilant Jaswant Singh said he would reach out to the non-NDA parties including UPA partner Trinamool Congress for their support.
"I will talk to all non-NDA parties for support. I will talk to Mamata Banerjee also," he said.
Refusing to concede that he was fighting a losing battle, Singh said, "I don`t reject the importance of numbers...(But) wait and watch... It is not simply a game of arithmetic."
As things stand, Ansari has a definite edge with the pledged support of at least 438 votes in an electoral college of 790 MPs, much above the required number of 396.
Singh, former Finance and External Affairs Minister, has the committed support of 186 votes in the electoral college which comprises 545 members of Lok Sabha and 245 members of Rajya Sabha.
There are 125 MPs, including 10 nominated members, of different parties who are yet to announce their preference.
Even if all these MPs back the NDA nominee, Singh can muster only around 300 votes, still falling short of the requisite number.
Parties which have pledged support for Ansari are: Congress (278), BSP (36), SP (31), CPM (27), DMK (25), NCP (16), RLD (5), RJD (5), NC (5) and others which include Forward Bloc, Muslim League, AIMIM, AIUDF, Kerala Congress (Mani), VKC, BVA, NPF, SDF and Swabhiman Paksha.
For Singh, BJP has 163 MPs, JD-U 29, Shiv Sena 15, SAD 7 and others like JMM three and Haryana Janhit Party one.
BJD with 21 MPs and AIADMK with 14 MPs, which are with NDA in supporting P A Sangma in the Presidential poll, have not revealed their stand so far.
Meanwhile, CPI(M) and Forward Bloc declared their support for Ansari. CPI will take a decision on the issue on Wednesday at a meeting of its Central Secretariat, D Raja, CPI National Secretary, said.
The Trinamool Congress, which is on a rough patch with the Congress, had zeroed down on the names of former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose`s niece and former Lok Sabha member Krishna Bose, as per reports.
However, Gopal Gandhi made it clear yesterday that he was not in the race for the Vice President’s post.