New Delhi: BJP-led NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankhar, 71, on Saturday was elected as the 14th vice-president of the country. Mr Dhankhar, described as a “kisanputra” by the ruling BJP, defeated the joint Opposition candidate and former Union minister Margaret Alva.
Congratulations started pouring in as soon as the returning officer for the vice-president polls, Lok Sabha secretary-general Utpal Kumar Singh, declared the results.
Mr Dhankhar, who will also be the Rajya Sabha’s chairman, will take the oath on August 11, a day after the incumbent M. Venkaiah Naidu’s term ends.
Mr Dhankhar bagged 528 votes out of the 710 votes cast by the electoral college consisting of members of Parliament from both houses. Ms Alva got 182 votes. In all, 725 votes were cast, of which 15 were found invalid.
Newly elected President Droupadi Murmu congratulated Mr Dhankhar, who was born in a remote village in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district and belongs to the Jat community, on winning the election.
Soon after the results were announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president J.P. Nadda went to personally congratulate Mr Dhankhar at Union parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi’s residence.
Congress leaders, including its interim president Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi also congratulated him.
The outgoing V-P congratulated his successor while noting that the nation will “greatly benefit from your vast experience and legal expertise.”
Ms Alva’s candidacy ended up revealing cracks in the Opposition camp, with its key member, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led TMC abstaining from the polls as the leadership of Bengal’s ruling party, including the CM, were often engaged in a war of words with Mr Dhankhar over various issues.
Though the ruling alliance had enough numbers to get Mr Dhankhar elected to the constitutional post, some non-NDA outfits, including the BJD, YSRCP, Shiv Sena, BSP, also voted for him.
The TMC’s decision to abstain from the V-P polls ended up raising many eyebrows in the Opposition camp. It not only made the contest easier for the NDA candidate but also put a question mark on the Opposition camp’s fight to take on Mr Modi-led BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Despite the TMC abstaining from the polls, two of its MPs – Sisir Kumar Adhikari and Dibyendu Adhikari – cast their ballots.
Congratulating the V-P designate, his opponent Ms Alva hit at some of the non-NDA, non-UPA parties for derailing the “idea of a united Opposition” by “directly or indirectly” supporting the BJP.
“This election was an opportunity for the Opposition to work together, to leave the past behind and build trust amongst each other. Unfortunately, some Opposition parties chose to directly or indirectly support the BJP, in an attempt to derail the idea of a united Opposition. It is my belief that by doing so these parties and their leaders have damaged their own credibility. This election is over. The battle for protecting our Constitution, strengthening our democracy and restoring the dignity of Parliament will continue. Jai Hind,” tweeted Ms Alva.
Congratulating Mr Dhankhar, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh said his “long public life, wide experience and deep understanding of people’s issues will certainly benefit the nation.”
Noting his association with public life, Union home minister Amit Shah said he will prove to be an ideal guardian of the Constitution and the Upper House of Parliament will benefit from his experience.”