Senior BJP leader and Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu (in pic) will be the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) vice-presidential candidate, the party announced on Monday.
A BJP parliamentary board met in New Delhi on Monday evening and decided to field the veteran leader against opposition’s candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi for the post of vice-president.
Members of both houses of Parliament will vote on August 5 to elect the new vice-president of India.
Naidu, belonging to Andhra Pradesh, has been one of the most prominent BJP faces from South India.
Through his nomination, the saffron party looks to spread its footprint in the south, where it has negligible presence, except in Karnataka. The party seeks to expand its base south of Vindhyas ahead of the 2019 general elections. Insiders in the party felt that the BJP already has a firm grip over North India and other parts and were expanding in the East. But South India continues to remain an uphill task for the party.
BJP president Amit Shah said that NDA partners backed Naidu’s candidature and the seasoned politician was liked across the political spectrum. Naidu has been associated with the Jan Sangh from his student days, as he was an RSS swayamsevak as well as an active member of BJP’s student wing ABVP. He came into prominence during the Jai Andhra Movement of 1972 led by Kakani Venkata Ramana. Naidu played a key role in the anti-Emergency protests and became president of Jayaprakash Narayan’s Chhaatra Sangharsh Samiti. His deft political skills made him the NDA’s candidate as the BJP wanted someone with complete understanding of parliamentary functions. Naidu commanded the respect of opposition parties as well. As vice-president, he will be the Rajya Sabha chairperson. The BJP lacks numbers in the Upper House and it will need the chair’s support to push through legislative business in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.