Politics

Odisha Governor S.C. Jamir Is RSS Candidate for Vice President, Says Top Pracharak

The RSS and BJP will hope that Jamir’s election as vice president will help showcase the Modi government as being secular.

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Odisha governor S.C. Jamir (left) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event in Bhubaneswar on April 16. Credit: Twitter/@narendramodi

New Delhi: The Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is backing S.C. Jamir, a senior Congressman from Nagaland and current Odisha governor, as its vice presidential nominee, a senior RSS pracharak in the Northeast, told The Wire.

If Jamir is elected to the post, he will be the first vice president from the Northeast.

The RSS, has been working to spread the influence of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the region. “There is a list of candidates for the post of vice president [with the government] but we are supporting the candidature of former Nagaland chief minister S.C. Jamir,” an RSS pracharak told The Wire from Shillong on April 17.  I have had discussions with the central leadership of RSS on this issue and we have their support.”

Though the BJP has not officially named its candidate for the post of vice president yet, Ram Madhav, party national secretary in charge of the Northeast, hinted at such a possibility in a tweet after a meeting with Jamir in Bhubaneswar on April 16.

Vice President Hamid Ansari’s term will end in August.

According to news reports, besides Jamir, Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu and Maharashtra governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao are also contenders to the vice president post. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly not yet expressed his preference for any candidate. He was supposed to discuss the issue in “pull-aside meetings” at the BJP national executive held in Odisha on April 15-16, though the outcome of such “meetings” has not yet been reported in the media.

Besides being a five-time chief minister of Nagaland – three of these as a Congressman – 87-year-old Jamir, “is suited for the post as he is a patriot, never supported the separation of the Naga people from Bharat,” said the pracharak.

Jamir, who also served as the parliamentary secretary to India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a member of the committee that held talks with the central government in 1960 that led to the formation of Nagaland as a state and is one of the signatories of the 16-point agreement.

“What is important is also that by choosing Jamir, the Narendra Modi government will send a strong message to the Northeast about bringing the region to the national mainstream,” the pracharak said, which in turn, “will help the BJP gain power in Meghalaya and Nagaland, also because Jamir is a devout Christian.”

Meghalaya and Nagaland, two Christian majority states, are slated to go to the polls next year.

The RSS pracharak further added, “This would also improve the national and international image of the Modi government as secular.”

RSS workers feel Jamir’s candidature would have the support of the Congress as well. In the run-up to the vice presidential elections in 2012, Jamir was one of the top contenders besides Ansari and former union minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo.

After the spectacular win in Uttar Pradesh last month, the BJP and its allies have improved their tally in the electoral college by around 53,000 votes. It is still short of about 40,000 votes to reach the magic figure of 549,441 required for a majority in the electoral college, which that elects the president and the vice president and has a total of 10,98,882 votes.

Jamir, who served as a governor of Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat, was appointed the governor of Odisha by the Manmohan Singh government in March 2013. Besides former Lt. General Nirbhay Sharma (Mizoram), Jamir is the sole UPA era governor in the Modi government.