Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu was today chosen by the BJP parliamentary board to contest as the ruling NDA's candidate in the vice-presidential election against Opposition nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi. Naidu's name was finalised at a meeting of the BJP parliamentary board here attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and other senior party leaders. The 68-year old Naidu currently holds the portfolios of Information and Broadcasting and Housing and Urban Affairs.
Earlier, Naidu had denied the reports that speculated him as the top choice of the BJP leadership.
“I am not aspiring to become anything, party finally decides about the candidature. Meeting (of BJP parliamentary board) is at 6 pm. All other things are only speculations. Whatever Parliamentary Board decides is final," the former BJP president had said.
Soon after his name was announced by Amit Shah, PM Modi said Naidu is a fitting candidate for the office of Vice President. Modi described 68-year-old Naidu as a farmer's son who "brings years of experience in public life and is admired across the political spectrum".
He said he has always admired the hardwork and tenacity of Naidu, currently a minister in his Cabinet holding the portfolios of Information and Broadcasting and Urban Development.
"I know @MVenkaiahNaidu Garu for years. Have always admired his hardwork & tenacity. A fitting candidate for the office of Vice President," the prime minister tweeted, soon after the announcement of the decision of BJP's Parliamentary Board, the highest decision-making body of the party.
"The years of Parliamentary experience @MVenkaiahNaidu Garu has will help him discharge the important role of Rajya Sabha Chairperson," Modi added.
An alliance of 18 opposition parties, including the Congress, has already announced former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as its candidate for vice presidential poll scheduled for August 5. July 18 is the last date for filing of nominations.
Meanwhile, BJP's ally Shiv Sena today targeted the Congress for nominating Gopalkrishna Gandhi and advised the party to get its ‘mental balance’ checked following the decision.
"On what basis has the Congress nominated Gopalkrishna Gandhi for the post of the Vice-President? He is the same man who advocated for the mercy plea for Mumbai serial blast conspirator Yakub Memon," Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told ANI.
"If they want Gopalkrishna Gandhi to hold a Constitutional position in the nation, then it is important to get their 'mental balance' checked," he added. Raut also said that Congress should understand that nominating Gopalkrishna, who backed Memon, is like going against the nation.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. He will also be accompanied by top opposition leaders, including those from the Left parties and TMC.
The electoral college for the election consists of 790 MPs of the two chambers of Parliament. The ruling bloc enjoys an overwhelming majority in the electoral college and BJP has expressed confidence about garnering anywhere between 500 and 550 votes.