Politics

Amit Shah Holds ‘Consultations’ With RSS Leaders on VP Candidate

The BJP is expected to announce their vice-presidential candidate after a meeting with Prime Minister Modi and the party’s parliamentary board.

Amit Shah. Credit: PTI

Amit Shah. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: While the Bharatiya Janata Party was expected to finalise its candidate for the post of the vice-president by today, it may take a day or two more to announce the candidate who will take on Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and career bureaucrat-diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi in the poll scheduled for August 5. During the day, party president Amit Shah met two senior Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) functionaries, Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Krishna Gopal, at its Keshav Kunj headquarters here, to discuss the issue.

After hastening with presidential candidate, BJP goes slow on VP candidate

Contrary to the alacrity with which it had announced the candidature of the then Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind in June for the post of the president, taking the entire opposition by surprise; the BJP has moved slowly on the issue of candidature of its vice-presidential candidate.

While the party did not formally consult the opposition parties, which had fielded Meira Kumar as the presidential candidate, and later Gandhi as their vice-president’s choice, it has been sending out feelers to its allies and other parties which had come out in support of Kovind seeking their support for its vice-presidential candidate as well.

Office-bearers, senior leaders consulted by Shah, Ram Lal

In the meantime, the party had also taken the opinion of all its office-bearers and senior leaders on the best choice for the candidature. This exercise was carried out by Shah along with the party’s organisational secretary Ram Lal.

After consultations with the RSS leaders, Shah, who had also met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at a book launch yesterday, is now expected to take all the feedback to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Then the shortlisted name is expected to be placed before the parliamentary board of the party before being announced. The last date for filing of nominations is July 18.

Party wants to show some ‘magnanimity’ when win is certain

On why it has taken so long for the party to decide the name of its vice-presidential candidate when it had taken a decision on Kovind rather quickly, a party source said the idea behind the prolonged exercise is to take everyone along on the issue. The party wants to avoid any kind of misgivings as it heads towards elections for the two highest offices in the country.

With the numbers clearly in its favour as the National Democratic Alliance constituents have a strength of 550 out of 790 in both the houses of parliament, whose members constitute the electoral college for the election to the post of vice-president; the BJP was keen on displaying magnanimity by not rushing through with the name and holding ‘consultations’, albeit in name only.

Surprise names do not surprise anymore

Everyone in the party knows that the final decision would be of Modi and Shah alone and nobody else’s opinion matters. The couple has replaced the Gandhi family in this regard. It is because of this reason alone that no one has been able to even hazard a guess on who would be nominated by the party to hold important posts. Be it the selection of chief ministers – Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana, Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, Raghubar Das in Jharkhand or more lately Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh – every name had surprised the party leaders as much as it had the political pundits.

And so was the case with Kovind’s name, which cropped up barely a couple of days after Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu, who were part of a three-member team along with Arun Jaitley, had met opposition leaders to explore the possibility of a consensus candidate for the post of the president.

Party in celebratory mood as it moves to grab top four posts

As with the recent past, while a number of names are being talked about for the post of BJP’s vice-presidential candidate, the announcement is once again expected to come with some element of surprise. BJP knows it is headed towards occupying all the four most important posts in the country in less than a month’s time – those of president, vice-president, prime minister and Lok Sabha speaker – and it would not miss an opportunity to enjoy every minute of the journey.